Legal Education, Religious and Secular: TWU and Beyond
27 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2014 Last revised: 12 Nov 2014
Date Written: April 23, 2014
There has been a vigorous argument in Canada over whether a private Christian educational institution, Trinity Western University (TWU), should be able to open an accredited law school. TWU has come under scrutiny for requiring faculty, students and staff to sign a Community Covenant promising not to engage in a set of biblically prohibited activities, including sexual contact outside of heterosexual marriage. Arguing that the Covenant is discriminatory, many oppose the law school. Their objections have precipitated debates in both academic and regulatory settings.
This paper does not engage with the various constitutional and human rights issues at stake in the TWU controversy. Instead, it engages in a broader discussion of Canadian legal education – its existing conventions, animating aims, and relationship to the legal profession. Though we have deep concerns about the TWU Covenant, and its effect on gay and lesbian students, we also have concerns about the way in which some of the objections to TWU’s law school have been framed. In criticizing TWU, secular law schools and academics should be wary of setting out standards that, in their own institutions, they do not purport to observe.
Keywords: legal education, regulation of the legal profession, freedom of religion, diversity
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