Christian law school denied accreditation, graduates will not be allowed to practice in Ontario
TORONTO, April 25, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Ontario’s Law Society voted yon Thursday against accrediting a first-of-its-kind Christian law school, which is facing a barrage of attacks over its “community covenant” requiring all students to adhere to Christian sexual morality.
The Law Society’s 28-21 vote to reject Trinity Western University’s (TWU) accreditation — with one abstention — means that future graduates of the proposed school of law will not be eligible to practice in Ontario.
The Law Society called its decision a “difficult one” that was arrived at “carefully and respectfully.”
“Concerns were expressed about the discriminatory effect of TWU's Community Covenant,” the society stated in a press release.
TWU’s community covenant includes that students must “voluntarily abstain” from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.” The pledge also asks that university members abstain from gossip, slander, lying, cheating, stealing, pornography, and drunkenness.
Opponents say the policy discriminates against homosexuals and that Canada has no place for a law school that steadfastly abides by traditional Christian beliefs. During debate prior to the vote Law Society board-of-director members condemned the policy as “abhorrent.”
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TWU says the real debate is whether or not individuals with a faith perspective remain free to hold religious definitions of marriage.
Defenders point out TWU’s policy applies to all staff and students, regardless of sexual orientation and that any student, whether gay or straight, who does not wish to abide by TWU’s code of conduct is free to attend another university.
In no place of TWU’s pledge do the words “homosexual” or “gay” appear.
The Law Society said that despite its decision against TWU, it nevertheless “recognize[s] the entrenched values of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Ontario's Human Rights Code, including the right of equality and the right to freedom of religion, and the foundational nature of those rights to our democracy.”
In 2001, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld TWU’s right to operate as a Christian school according to its Christian values, ruling that school’s faith-based policies should in no way be construed as a barrier to accreditation. The BC College of Teachers were left with no choice at that time but to approve TWU’s teacher education program.
It is not clear at this point if TWU will file a lawsuit against the Ontario Law Society. TWU did not respond to LifeSiteNews by press time.
Earlier this month the Law Society of British Columbia approved TWU’s proposed law school in a vote of 20-6.
“This is also an important decision for all Canadians,” said TWU President Bob Kuhn at that time. “It says that there is room in a democratic country like Canada for a law school at a Christian university.”
TWU’s three-year law degree program will launch in September 2016.
The Law Society of Upper Canada
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