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Canadian Christian university wins major court battle against Nova Scotia law society

Justice for Christian University Image: Bloomberries/Flicker/CC

Justice for a Christian University. Image: Bloomberries/Flicker/CC

Trinity Western University (TWU) is a private Evangelical Christian university based in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. The school founded in 1962 has about 3,500 students. Both Canadian and American accreditation bodies recognize TWU’s degrees.

In 2014, Trinity made application to issue a law degree, allowing graduating students to become lawyers.

According to an article in The Globe and Mail, in order to issue a law degree a university “must receive approval from three bodies: The ministry, the provincial law society and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada.”

TWU’s announcement caused a backlash from three provincial law societies — Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Ontario — who said they would not recognize a law degree from the University.

The problem stems from one of TWU’s covenants that states all students and staff must avoid sexual intimacy outside the bounds of marriage between a man and a woman. The real issue being it forbids, among other activities, homosexual relationships.

In April 2014, the Nova Scotia’s Barristers’ Society (NSBS) said it would only approve Trinity’s degree if it removed this covenant. This resulted in TWU taking NSBS to court.

In his judgement that came down Wednesday, January 28th, Justice Jamie Campbell ruled against Nova Scotia’s law society saying it had no right to stop Trinity from setting up a law program.

One of the law society’s arguments opposing Trinity’s application is that under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms the University discriminates against homosexuals.

Campbell said:

“[the Charter] is not a blueprint for moral conformity. Its purpose is to protect the citizen from the power of the state, not to enforce compliance by citizens or private institutions with the moral judgments of the state [or] with the preferred moral values of the NSBS Council.”

He said there were competing values here and NSBS chose to favor homosexual rights over Christian ones.

Campbell added:

“Allowing the NSBS’s decision to stand would … have a chilling effect on the liberty of conscience and freedom of religion.”

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom intervened in the case supporting TWU. In an interview with LifesiteNews, spokesman John Carpay said:

“January 28 will go down as a great day for freedom in Canada.”

In an opinion editorial in The Globe and Mail, Carpay added though some may not agree with Trinity’s views:

“Hurt feelings and even outrage are not sufficient grounds for government to violate the fundamental freedoms of Canadians.”

Trinity Western has cases pending against the law societies of BC and Ontario.

LifesiteNews provided a great overview of the case and Justice Cambell’s lengthy decision and I urge those interested to read its article.

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