Trinity Western is facing criticism as it attempts to establish Canada’s first religious law school. The University has a long-standing “community covenant” that students and faculty must refrain from participation in homosexual relationships or face disciplinary measures that include expulsion.
The Council of Canadian Law Deans has distributed a letter to the Federation of Canadian Law Societies that denounces the covenant and goes on to state,
“This is a matter of great concern for all members… Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is unlawful in Canada and fundamentally at odds with the core values of all Canadian law schools.”
Trinity Western’s president responded to the letter by maintaining that the covenant is “consistent with federal and provincial law” after its 2001 legal dispute with the BC College of Teachers in which the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a religious school can exempt itself from human rights legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The Court said schools were justified in doing this to preserve freedom of conscience and religion.
Former leader of the Ottawa-based Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, Janet Epp-Buckingham is spearheading the campaign for a law school at Trinity Western and maintains that Christians often face a hostile environment at secular Canadian law schools. Epp-Buckingham has been a vocal member in the campaign against abortion, same-sex marriage and regulated assisted suicide. She remains confident that the school will obtain accreditation.