In furtherance of our desire to maintain TWU as a thriving community of Christian believers that is inclusive of all students wishing to learn from a Christian viewpoint and underlying philosophy, the Community Covenant will no longer be mandatory as of the 2018-19 Academic year with respect to admission of students to, or continuation of students at, the University.
This motion was passed by the board of governors last week and was reported by the Vancouver Sun today.
TWU's Community Covenant was central to the recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling that found that a decision by law societies in BC and Ontario to reject a proposed law school at TWU was reasonable. The Covenant was mandatory for all students attending TWU and required them to abstain from sex outside of a heterosexual marriage.
In June, the majority on the Supreme Court ruled that the law societies have a legitimate interest in defending principles of diversity and equality of access to the bar and that outweighed the religious rights of members of the TWU community.
The decision to make the Covenant voluntary means that TWU may try to apply to the law societies again to open its proposed law school.
Ian Bushfield, Executive Director, BC Humanist Association:
While everyone has the freedom to believe what they want about marriage and sex, this decision is finally a recognition by the administration at TWU that they do not have the right to force others to conform to their views.
It also thoroughly discredits TWU's earlier claims that excluding LGBTQ+ students was fundamental to the practice of their religion. This will hopefully serve as a lesson the next time religion is used as a defence for intolerance and bigotry.
This is a small step toward recognizing the diversity that exists within their own community and they should be applauded for that.TWU does still require faculty and staff sign a Statement of Faith. Such a requirement is a huge infringement on academic freedom and I'd hope law societies carefully weigh such a requirement should TWU come forward again to try to open its law school.
Banner credit: flickr/R Orville Lyttle