Reject TWU Law School

A new statement from the Board of Directors of the BCHA joins calls for a proposed law school at Trinity Western University to be rejected.

In a position paper released today, the Board of Directors of the British Columbia Humanist Association is joining nationwide calls for the Province of BC and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC) to reject a proposed law degree program at Trinity Western University (TWU).

The statement, to be ratified next week, references TWU’s Community Covenant, to which all prospective students are required to adhere. The Covenant calls for students to “commit themselves to…uphold [all persons’] God-given worth from conception to death,” which contravenes women’s reproductive rights. It also calls on students to “abstain from…sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman,” discriminating against gay and lesbian students.

The University’s mandatory Statement of Faith is also cited as a challenge to academic freedom as all faculty and staff are required to pledge themselves to Christianity. The Statement says “God will… [assign] the unbeliever to condemnation and eternal conscious punishment” and requires staff “to combat the spiritual forces of evil.” The BCHA believes this condition precludes all atheists and non-Christians from working at the institution that has received several million dollars in public funds.

“TWU’s discriminatory admittance practices and assaults on academic freedom ought to disqualify it from becoming a serious law school,” says Ian Bushfield, Executive Director of the BCHA.

He worries that by approving the school, the FLSC will create a two-tier path to becoming a lawyer in Canada – one of which is only open to wealthy Christian evangelicals. “Canada is about equality, not religious privilege.”


Position: Reject the TWU Law Degree Program

Ratified: 14 August 2013

Whereas Humanism is committed to the equal dignity of all persons, regardless of belief or sexual orientation, and to the separation of church and state;

Whereas the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the BC Human Rights Code prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion or sexual orientation;

Whereas Trinity Western University’s (TWU) Community Covenant discriminates against women[1] and against gay, lesbian, and bisexual students[2];

Whereas the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) determined TWU’s policies, including their mandatory Statement of Faith for faculty and staff, violate the principle of academic freedom[3];

Whereas TWU has received at least $6.3 million in funding from the Governments of BC and Canada[4];

Whereas TWU has applied the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC) to create an accredited law school;

And whereas a rejection of TWU’s application by the FLSC could potentially survive a court challenge[5];

The Board of Directors of the British Columbia Humanist Association calls on that the Province of British Columbia and the FLSC to deny the application by TWU to create a law degree program.


[1] “Members of the TWU community, therefore, commit themselves to…uphold [all persons’] God-given worth from conception to death.” TWU Community Covenant Agreement Source: http://twu.ca/studenthandbook/twu-community-covenant-agreement.pdf

[2] “…community members voluntarily abstain from…sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.” Ibid.

[4] $2.6 million in 2009 from both the Governments of BC and Canada source: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/696.nsf/eng/00512.html and $1.1 million in 2011 source: http://www.markwarawa.com/In%20the%20media/mark_in_the_news/twu-granted--1.1-million

[5] Craig, Elaine, “The Case for the Federation of Law Societies Rejecting Trinity Western University's Proposed Law Degree Program.” Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, Vol. 25(1), 2013. http://ssrn.com/abstract=2202408

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