On the Trinity Western University Controversy: An Argument for a Christian Law School in Canada
(2013) 22:3 Const. Forum 1-14, revised version of presentation to Canadian Association of Law Teachers (CALT) Annual Meeting in Victoria, British Columbia, June 4, 2013
14 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2013 Last revised: 29 Nov 2013
Date Written: June 22, 2013
An application by Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia to open a Christian law school in Canada has faced controversy and criticism that has challenged the right of the school to exist, largely because of a provision in its community covenant on sexuality issues. In this text, I challenge the critics. To do so, I contextualize matters by presenting a number of arguments for the value of a Christian law school in Canada and showing that some of the critics have not engaged fully with what such a law school might be like. Then, I put an argument that the usual reconciliation of rights model supports allowing a Christian law school to operate even when it implicitly excludes some from attending. I also argue that there may properly be challenges put to the school on its policy within Christian traditions, although that fact does not take away from its right to operate on its own interpretation of its religious traditions. The paper is a slightly refined text of a presentation delivered as part of a panel on “New Law Schools” at the Canadian Association of Law Teachers (CALT) Annual Meeting in Victoria, British Columbia on June 4, 2013.
Keywords: legal education, rights theory, religion, Christian legal scholarship, sexuality and law, Canada
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