Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Discrimination?

Trinity Western University [TWU], an evangelical Christian university in Langley, BC, received preliminary approval, last month, by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and the Province of BC to create a new law program. 

Several groups including the University of British Columbia [UBC] and the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society are protesting the move. 

At issue is a requirement on the part of TWU that staff and students acknowledge the school’s faith-based values and beliefs; this includes signing TWU's Community Covenant which states that: 
"The University’s mission, core values, curriculum and community life are formed by a firm commitment to the person and work of Jesus Christ as declared in the Bible.
Both UBC and the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society take issue with the Covenant saying that this conflicts with “a lawyer’s obligation of non-discrimination” and exclude potential students and staff who identify as LGBTQ. 

At issue are the statements: 
"Members of the TWU community... commit themselves to:... observe modesty, purity and appropriate intimacy in all relationships, reserve sexual expressions of intimacy for marriage, and within marriage take every reasonable step to resolve conflict and avoid divorce"; 
"community members voluntarily abstain from the following actions:... sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman". 
What we have here is not so much discrimination, although I think one could probably argue that those who hold to marriage as being between a man and a women are being discriminated against, as it is the refusal to recognize: 
(a) the restriction of sexual intimacy to marriage; and, 
(b) the sacredness and oneness / exclusiveness of marriage. 

And yes, Christians have failed at both of these, but neither of these values are held high within the LGBTQ or QUILTBAG [Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender/Transsexual, Bisexual, Allied/Asexual, Gay/Genderqueer] communities. 

Even more telling, is that neither UBC or the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society have done their homework. The issue of TWU’s Community Covenant has already been ruled on by the Supreme Court of Canada. In 2001, the Court ruled in Trinity Western University v. British Columbia College of Teachers that the British Columbia College of Teachers had no legal justification for refusing to accredit TWU’s graduates on the basis of TWU’s Community Covenant. The Court found no evidence that TWU’s students, who had signed and abided by the Community Covenant, demonstrated any discriminatory behaviour in the exercising of their duties as teaching professionals.

1 comment:

Douglas Bentley said...

I personally view it as ironic that their reaction to a school's lifestyle agreement, which they claim is discriminatory, is to discriminate against students graduating from this institution for a lifestyle agreement which is faith based... Doesn't that exclude the objectors on the very same grounds?