Christian law school one step closer to approval despite attacks over traditional marriage views
LANGLEY, BC, December 17, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Despite massive opposition from a council of law deans and an outspoken pro-abortion lawyer, Trinity Western University (TWU) is one step closer to opening the country’s first Christian law school after receiving approval Monday from the Federation of Law Societies of Canada.
“We are very pleased with this news,” said TWU President Bob Kuhn, also a lawyer.
“We recognize that there has been considerable debate with respect to the fact that TWU is a faith based university,” Kuhn said in a press release. “Now that the Federation has approved the program, we can move on from that debate and build an excellent law school to serve the Canadian public.”
Before the law school can open its doors to students, it needs approval from the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education.
Don Hutchinson, Vice-President and General Legal Counsel for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, had nothing but praise for TWU clearing what he called a first “very big hurdle” in establishing a law school.
“Congratulations to Trinity Western University and its visionary leadership, especially Dr. Janet Epp Buckhingham who has held this dream for years,” he told LifeSiteNews.com.
Earlier this year, the Canadian Council of Law Deans attempted to kibosh the law-school proposal because of TWU’s “community covenant” that requires all students to adhere to Christian sexual morality, including to “voluntarily abstain” from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”
The Law Deans at the time called the covenant “fundamentally incompatible” with the core values of Canadian law schools and the social values of diversity because they said it discriminated against homosexual students.
Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver issued a statement of support for the law-school proposal at that time, saying that efforts to deny TWU the right to a law school on the basis of its religious principles are an “example of the threats to freedom of conscience and religion that are becoming increasingly common in this country.”
“The irony of the situation – with those who are at the forefront of the legal profession trying to penalize an institution for embracing and openly practising its convictions – is disturbing,” he said.
Pro-abortion civil rights lawyer Clayton Ruby — known for his work on behalf of arch-abortionist Henry Morgentaler and who is now acting as counsel for accused child pornographer Benjamin Levin — recently denounced TWU’s Christian beliefs as “perverse” and “silliness”.
Last week Ruby threatened to challenge TWU’s accreditation in court should it be granted approval by the province.
“If they get granted status by the BC government, we will sue because it is immoral and unconstitutional to ban gay students,” he said, reported Xtra.
TWU’s president Kuhn has previously denounced Ruby’s accusations against the school as “absurd” and “defamatory”, making it clear at the same time that the school does not exclude people from its programs over how they identify themselves.
If Ruby goes ahead with the challenge, he would have the hurdle of legal precedent to overcome.
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.
Hutchinson called Ruby’s threat to sue the “act of a desperate lawyer who is seeking to bully TWU through the tactic of a looming litigation cloud with the potential expense of retaining a lawyer.”
“TWU has been successfully down that path before,” he said.
Gwen Landolt, lawyer and National Vice President of REAL Women Canada, told LifeSiteNews.com that there is so much opposition to the proposal from the left because it feels threatened by a school that will graduate lawyers and future judges who will be trained to “interpret the law without a liberal bias” but as “willed by Parliament.”
“They’re absolutely terrified that the law will be upheld as written,” she said, adding that the left seems prepared to go to great lengths to “stamp out anything that does not accord with their own liberal ideology.”
The left is terrified that the law will “no longer be a free-for-all for liberal judges,” she said.
With over twenty non-Christian law schools in operation across the country, Landolt said it was “about time” that a Christian law school opened its doors. “It’s a great relief to know that there will be a more objective interpretation of the law,” she said.
Establishing a law school has been part of TWU’s “strategic plan” for many years, the university’s website states. School officials say the plan “fits well” with the university’s mission to “develop Godly leaders for the marketplaces of life.”
The School of Law at TWU, to open in September 2015, will train students to “see the profession of law as a high calling in the life of service.” The program aims to develop “servant leaders who believe in and demonstrate a different concept of professionalism than the current marketplace promotes.”