Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Schools in Conflict in Canada

Written by Rev. H.A. Bergsma
Meanwhile, at Trinity Western University, B.C. the conflict is on. On November 9th this fall, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear the case of the British Columbia College of Teachers against Trinity Western University (TWU). In 1996, TWU applied to the British Columbia College of Teachers (BCCT) for approval to offer a fifth year, which is the professional education year of teacher training. The BCCT's own examination teams, people that it chose and appointed, visited the TWU campus. They met with the faculty, spoke with the students, and recommended approval of the TWU program. Meeting later, the BCCT's Council decided that what it called TWU's "belief systems" were not to its liking. At issue was TWU's Community Responsibilities Statement, a commitment that all students and faculty at the University make. This statement requires that members of the IWLJ community make a habit of showing "love and respect for all people regardless of race or gender." The statement also requires that members of the community respect the principle of Christian marriage by refraining from "premarital sex, adultery, and homosexual behavior."

Despite TWU's commitment to show love and respect for others, the BCCT Council disagreed with TWU's prohibition of homosexual behaviour, and on that basis the Council rejected its own committee's recommendation for approval. Two courts have now ruled that the BCCT's actions were clearly "unreasonable." The B.C. Court of Appeal, taking a second look at the matter, ruled that the BCCT acted without "one bit of evidence" to support its conclusions that TWU students might be intolerant.

And that's why this is not the narrow cause of a few religious conservatives. If the BCCT position were upheld, it would become legal in Canada for government to deny approvals, licenses, or other public benefits based on disapproval of personal beliefs, even without evidence of intolerance or any other inappropriate behavior. This should be a concern for everyone. It is not necessary to agree with TWU's views to see how serious the matter is if Canadian citizens, without evidence or good reason in the eyes of the courts, were restricted in this way. In fact, so serious is the concern that both the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association will appear in the Supreme Court of Canada. The commitment of these organizations to equal rights for homosexuals is well known, but they will argue that the BCCT's action against Trinity Western was wrong and a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

TWU believes in the fundamental human dignity of all people. We are all made by God, and everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. However, as Christian people, we also believe in marriage between a husband and wife. The BCCT is wrong to label this conviction an intolerant "belief system" and to use it as the basis for denying approval. Given the significance of this case for every Canadian citizen, TWU is asking for help. As the November 9th hearing in the Supreme Court of Canada approaches, all Christians are asked to pray that the Supreme Court of Canada will uphold the liberty of Christian people to believe in marriage without being punished by the government through withdrawal of rights and benefits. TWU is also in need of financial assistance to support the significant costs associated with defending these principles in Canada's Supreme Court. Finally, from Guy Saffold, EdD., Executive Vice President of TWU: "What we have called our 'legal challengeÕ has been a long journey since 1996. This fall it will reach a conclusion. Experts across the country have pointed out that this will be a 'watershed' case. There is no appeal once the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled. Please stand with us in defending the cause of religious freedom in Canada."

For more information contact: Randy Schmidt, Director Media and Publication Services, Trinity Western University, 7600 Glover Road, Langley BC V2Y 1Y1 CANADA, Tel: (604) 888-7511, ext. 3341, Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Received with thanks, as information from Gerrit DeJong, B.C.).

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