The Corner

Want to Start a Law School in Canada? Don’t Try Making It Christian

British Columbia’s higher-education minister told the province’s Trinity Western University last week they could not open a law school because the university requires its students, staff, and faculty sign a covenant that includes a standard that students will not be involved in a sexual relationship other than with their husband or wife.

A majority of British Columbia lawyers had already voted to revoke accreditation of the school so graduates could not practice law. The denial of accreditation served as the basis for the government order not to open the school — since the school could not guarantee their graduates would be able to practice.

British Columbia’s lawyers and government are prioritizing politically correct notions of sexual morality over religious liberty. The action also chills freedom of speech: Unless courts restore Trinity Western’s accreditation, religious universities will presumably be unable to create law schools with standards consistent with their faith.

In America, this same demonization of opponents of redefining marriage, may be taking root, with its assumption that said opposition can be explained by nothing but bigotry. Even some law professors who support redefining marriage have explained this equation is wrong, but it has powerful purchase in our debased political discourse. It remains to be seen whether the message British Columbia has given to Trinity Western will eventually be given to many more: Come on in, but check your religion at the door.

UPDATE: Emily Zmak at Trinity Western University sends the following e-mail:

The post “What to Start a Law School in Canada?” currently says that the Minister revoked [approval for the school] because of TWU’s covenant. The Minister actually revoked his approval because when he approved the School of Law in Dec 2013, the approval was contingent upon the approval of the Law Society of BC. When the LSBC revoked their approval on Oct 31, 2014, the Minister rescinded his consent, as the school cannot train lawyers yet. It had nothing to do with the covenant. Furthermore, the Minister has encouraged TWU to re-apply when the law society issue is finished.

My point in mentioning the covenant is that it was the “but for” cause of the minister’s actions. It appears to be the reason the Law Society would not accredit the school, which was the reason the minister wouldn’t let it open. By including the covenant and the minister’s decision I may have compressed the timeline of events in a way that was not nuanced enough.

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