Skip to comments.The false debate over Trinity Western
Posted on 05/12/2014 9:23:54 AM PDT by rickmichaels
Last week a group of lawyers in Ontarioa province with publicly funded Catholic educationvoted to refuse the accreditation request of a private Christian law school at the other end of the country. Some say these are godless times; I think theyre just confusing. Trinity Western University, the 52-year-old evangelical institution in Langley, B.C., has elicited national controversy for mandating that students sign a biblically inspired community covenant prohibiting, among other things, pornography, swearing, drinking, and any sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman. In other words, gays need not apply.
The law school, slated to open in 2016, has the support of lawyers in British Columbia and the B.C. government, but the Law Society of Upper Canada believes its sexuality policy is discriminatory. Ontarios lawyers voted 28-21 against accrediting the school; the Nova Scotia Barristers Society followed suit, refusing to accredit TWU unless it amends its covenants discriminatory requirements or allows students to forgo signing the covenant altogether. New Brunswicks law society is scheduled to vote on the issue in June. The consequences for future TWU law graduates are great: they will not be able to article or practise law in provinces where their school is not accredited.
TWUs covenant isnt new, but its presence at a law school is particularly controversial. If youre going to teach the law, says Douglas Judson, an Osgoode Hall law student in Toronto arguing against the law schools accreditation, you have a duty to propagate Charter values. A duty: not a legal obligation. Canadas Charter of Rights and Freedoms may forbid government discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but TWU is a private, religious institution. It doesnt have to toe the government line. Besides, there are all kinds of gay-friendly law schools out there, jam-packed with gender-neutral bathrooms and safe spaces for every letter in that constantly expanding variegated acronymso why cant the Christians have an accredited safe space of their own?
Its simple: we shouldnt accredit TWUs law school for the same reason we wouldnt likely accredit a medical school that treated homosexuality as biologically and psychologically disordered. Like medicine, ethics is a science too; and blind absolutism makes for bad science. Consider the following excerpt from the affidavit of Jill Bishop, a lesbian who attended TWU in the mid-2000s and now supports gay activist Trevor Lokes constitutional challenge of the B.C. governments decision to approve the law school. I observed that the lens of evangelical Christianity was omnipresent. The effect of this was that people did not give opinions in class discussions that did not align with those values I did not feel able to raise other perspectives on homosexuality. I felt a real risk of expulsion. This is not exactly a good omen for an accredited institution devoted to the vocation of free thought. (Say what you will about loony leftism on the average secular college campus, but keep in mind that no student at York or UBC ever risked expulsion for refusing to uphold secular humanism.)
TWU president Bob Kuhn has so far framed the case against accreditation as anti-Christian bigotry, the obvious and familiar stance of the religious right. Less obvious and more interesting in this debate, though, is the apparent willingness of otherwise liberal thinkers to champion the law school, not in solidarity with religionists, but out of sheer annoyance at the triumphalism of gay activists. In the Globe and Mail recently, Konrad Yakabuski, who is in favour of accrediting TWU, argues that gay rights activists in North America are winningjust not fast enough for some fanatics, who seek to blacklist even those who object to gay marriage based on sincerely held religious or moral grounds.
According to this philosophy, discriminating against gays is reprehensible if youre an unthinking brute who is simply grossed out by sodomy: a Tucker Max type or some swashbuckling cast member of Duck Dynasty. But oppose gay marriage, or expel a gay married student from your law school for more refined reasonsbecause you are a man of God, or you read a compelling sociology study about the inviolability of the heterosexual nuclear family, and you can bask comfortably in your homophobia.
Luckily, things change. The recent public flogging of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich and the outright refusal by some to accredit TWU is not the work of PC fanaticism; its part of societys slow but inevitable acknowledgment that there is no justifiable, ideologically sound reason for opposing gay rights. In other words, youre not a conscientious objector. Youre just a jerk.
Yakabuski and his ilk arent bigots by a long shot. Theyre merely short-sighted. In fact, we all are. There is a very good reason why TWU accreditation is such a divisive issuewhy refusing to accredit a homophobic institution ￼isnt a given for many Canadians who would in a heartbeat refuse to accredit a law school which demanded, say, that women sign a covenant promising to obey their husbands, or stay silent in church (as the Bible clearly mandates).
The answer is in the passage of time. Moral outrage is also a dish best served cold; the NBAs outsized condemnation of allegedly racist L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling is ample proof of this. Racism and sexism wound. But homophobia only rankles, because acceptance of gays in the West, and the legal recognition of same-sex marriage in Canada, are still brand new realities.
So while Trinity Western Universitys prohibition against same-sex intimacy is technically just as immoral and discriminatory as the sexist, hypothetical policy I invented above, it doesnt sting, repulse, or offend in quite the same fashion. Its teeth havent had a chance to sharpen over time. When they do, though, I doubt that those who apologized for TWU will be proud of themselves. What we need then, in order to recognize how misguided it is to accredit this law school, isnt bigger hearts, but better foresight: the foresight to see ourselves through the eyes of our grandchildren.
I don't know about those schools in particular but what have learned about "Higher Education" when a student or teacher breaks the PC commandments?
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