Christian university in Langley loses Supreme Court battle for law school accreditation

Jun 15 2018, 4:19 pm

Langley’s Trinity Western University (TWU), a post-secondary institution in BC that provides education founded on evangelical Christian principles, has been denied accreditation for a proposed new law school by the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC)

In its decision on Friday, the SCC said TWU accreditation was denied because “students must sign Community Covenant that does not recognize same-sex marriage.”

The SCC said TWU’s Community Covenant is a code of conduct that encouraged or discouraged certain behaviour based on evangelical Christian notions of Biblical teaching and morality.

“The covenant prohibited sexual intimacy that violated the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman. Unmarried individuals were expected to live chaste, celibate lives,” said the SCC.

And while the ruling notes that did not prohibit admission to lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered (LGBTQ) students, and the covenant prohibited any forms of discrimination or prejudice, it notes TWU “did prohibit admission to its law school if a student refused to sign the covenant.”

In 2014, the Law Society of BC (LSBC) held a referendum, deciding to not acknowledge Trinity Western University law school graduates. TWU sought judicial review of that decision.

The reviewing court found that the LSBC’s refusal to accredit TWU on the basis of its admissions policy was directly related to the LSBC’s statutory mandate.

It also agreed that the LSBC was correct in its discretion to disapprove the academic qualifications of a law faculty, “so long as it followed the appropriate procedures and employed the correct analytical framework.”

The proposed law school received preliminary approval by the province in 2013, but that was later withdrawn.

TWU posted a response to Friday’s decision – along with a short video – on Facebook.

“Until now, Canada has encouraged the rich mosaic created by the diversity of views, race, gender, and belief systems,” the statement reads. “Sadly, the Supreme Court has decided that this does not extend to a law school at Trinity Western University.”

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