Paul L. Caron

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Deans Oppose Canada's First Christian Law School

TWUVancouver Sun:  Proposed Christian Law School at Trinity Western Under Fire Because of University’s Anti-Gay Rules:

The heads of Canada’s law schools oppose Trinity Western University’s attempts to star the country’s first religious law school. The Council of Canadian Law Deans has distributed a letter criticizing the evangelical Christian university’s long-standing requirement that faculty and students refrain from homosexual relationships. ... The deans’ objection is Trinity Western University’s Bible-based “community covenant,” which the council says makes clear that “gay, lesbian or bisexual students may be subject to disciplinary measures including expulsion.” ...

TWU’s proposed law school, which is being spearheaded by self-described “Christian advocate” Janet Epp-Buckingham, seeks to enrol 60 law students in each year of a three-year program. In a column in a leading Canadian evangelical magazine, Epp-Buckingham said her mission is to “develop Godly leaders for the marketplaces of life.” Christians, she said, often face a “hostile environment” in secular law schools. ...

One of many arguments Epp-Buckingam made for her dream of a law school at TWU is based on her view that Canada’s public law schools are “very similar to one another.” The U.S. has about 30 Catholic and Protestant law schools, Epp-Buckingham said, so it makes sense Canada could have one that is Christian.

(Hat Tip: Inside Higher Ed.)

Legal Education | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Deans Oppose Canada's First Christian Law School:


Most people would accept that divinity schools can be sect-specific. Churches do not have to accept as members or leaders people who are ignorant of or hostile toward their beliefs. Is there a good reason why there cannot be sect-specific law schools?

I'm against discrimination towards gay people, but I accept that not everybody will or must agree with all my beliefs. Being against discrimination does not mean that discrimination must be illegal.

Does everything bad or wrong have to be illegal? If so, how would you square that with freedom of speech and freedom of religion? It seems bizarre to say that the KKK has a right to march or the Junior Stalinist League has the right to distribute pamphlets, but religious groups must accept gay students and professors. The only conclusion I can reach is that you think anti-gay discrimination is bad enough to restrict but anti-black or anti-kulak rhetoric are not bad enough to restrict.

Posted by: NL7 | Jan 20, 2013 2:40:05 PM

Now that is just silly Richard. It is logical and acceptable for N.O.W. to have women presidents, is it not? And for the NAACP to have a completely black board of directors as well. This is a voluntary organization that requires people who go there to abide by Christian morals and ethics. I think it is just challenging to you that Scripture condemns homosexual behavior. Well, it does! And people who follow Scripture seek to abide by a Christian ethic, which involves no sex outside of man and woman marriage. Now as you are not a Christian, this does not apply to you. But you would do well to let us apply it to ourselves. That is called freedom.


Posted by: TMink | Jan 20, 2013 1:23:52 PM

Interesting choice of headline by Paul.

In the hands of someone with different social views, it would surely have been,

"No Gays Allowed At Proposed Evangelical Law School"


"Bob Jones Goes to Canada"

There are indeed law schools in the U.S. with catholic, protestant, and jewish affiliations, but almost all of them enroll and accept students of different faiths, political views, and lifestyles.

If the new law school had made jews, muslims or Hindus sign a pledge to adhere to Christian values and accept Jesus Christ as their savior (or refrain from praying to a different God), on pain of expulsion, would that be acceptable to anyone?

If secular or non-denominational law schools made their students sign a pledge to not practice their religion, would that be okay with anyone?

Is discrimination okay as long as you're clever enough to claim its based on religious belief?

Posted by: Anon | Jan 20, 2013 8:04:10 AM

Is it true that there are no Catholic law schools in Canada? Or don't they count as Christian?

Anyway, as Glenn Reynolds said, if it were a Muslim school, they'd be welcoming it in the name of diversity.

Posted by: Richard | Jan 20, 2013 6:35:07 AM

Why does the Council of Canadian Law Deans feel it necessary to uniformly oppose opening a law school, teaching Canadian law, at an established university? I'm having a hard time believing that a group of free-thinking individualists would hold the same opinion on a complicated social issue involving religion and sexuality. Or am I naive? Is it possible a representative of the liberal-homosexual complex visited or emailed the deans and advised them of what was expected of them? I wonder.

Posted by: Arty | Jan 20, 2013 6:13:37 AM

Fascinating. No doubt the deans would be perfectly all right with a law school for Muslims only, or perhaps for homosexuals only. But to insist on a behavioral code that forbids homosexual conduct? Unthinkable!

If there's a substantive objection possible to a religious law school, it would arise from a problem in its teaching of the law -- e.g., that members of its preferred religion have no obligation to observe and uphold certain laws, or that they have a positive obligation to do things the law forbids. But somehow, I doubt that Epp-Buckingham's proposed school will do such things. Anyway, we shall see.

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto | Jan 20, 2013 5:48:02 AM

I think the homosexuality thing is a requirement in the secular law schools, if I'm not mistaken. At least I haven't met a Canadian lawyer who wasn't, in my opinion. Besides, what about that, um, diversity being a good thing trope?

Posted by: teapartydoc | Jan 20, 2013 5:42:18 AM

No one seems to oppose Muslim schools on the basis of their anti-gay stance.

Why is that?

Posted by: Jack | Jan 20, 2013 5:01:00 AM