In A Liberal Society Trinity Western Should Be Free To Educate According To Its Beliefs

The movement to render the university unpalatable is not exactly the stuff of liberal tolerance.

The forces against Trinity Western may say that they are in the business of advancing rights and justice, but they are really on a crusade to subdue and punish everyone who does not see the world exactly as they do. Canadians who actually hold liberal principles should support the university’s efforts to have its law program duly recognized.

 

The controversy surrounding the law school at Trinity Western University — whose code of conduct ban on extramarital sex has drawn the ire of several provincial law societies — is an ongoing education in society’s different expectations for democracy. Some people see democracy as the condition of a crusade for social justice, rewarding the victims of past wrongs and punishing those who find themselves on “the wrong side of history.” Others believe it to be consensual, allowing for as many points of view and ways of life as possible, limited only by certain basic rights.

The latter interpretation is naturally more reasonable, which is why the forces against Trinity Western purport to argue on its grounds. They say that making the university an institution non grata is either not a violation of religious freedom at all, or that religious freedom doesn’t count when discrimination and equality are at stake. It’s an argument that the B.C., Ontario and Nova Scotia law societies have all found compelling. Upon legal challenge, Nova Scotia’s Supreme Court sided with the school; Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice, meanwhile, favoured the provincial law society. After B.C.’s law society reversed its decision to give the school accreditation, the university took the case to court.

The movement to render the university unpalatable is not exactly the stuff of liberal tolerance. Indeed, Trinity Western’s opinion of extramarital sexual behaviour, whatever you may think of it, is derived from a genuine reading of its religious beliefs. Furthermore, the university makes no claim on the right of people outside its walls to engage in whatever ante-marital activities they may wish; nor does it make any claim on any person to forcibly live and study within those walls. It simply posits that legal training and Christian belief are not antithetical enterprises, and vows to hold its voluntary students to a standard of both.

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