Abstaining from premarital sex may not be the first law-school prerequisite on most applicants’ minds, but it’s a big one for Trinity Western University (TWU)’s proposed law school. It’s so important, in fact, that it’s at the heart of the British Columbia-based university’s fight for its right to be accredited by unwilling Canadian law groups and bar associations in the top courts of Ontario, Nova Scotia and BC.
By denying accreditation to a private Christian institution on the basis of its moral code being discriminatory, the various provincial bar associations in these Supreme Court fights have shown that freedom of religion only matters when it doesn’t clash with public opinion.
Students at the university are required to sign an agreement stating that among other sordid activities like drunkenness, lying and cheating, they will avoid any kind of sexual intimacy that “violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.” Legal associations like the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC), and similar organizations in BC and Nova Scotia, have refused to grant accreditation to future graduates of TWU’s law school on the basis that it discriminates against LGBTQ individuals. TWU has stated that members of the LGBTQ community are loved, supported and welcomed at the institution.
There’s no arguing that this requirement can be worded better to include people in same-sex marriages and others who fall outside of a heterosexual union—for example, perhaps taking out the “man and woman” line and just leaving it at marriage. Trinity Western University, however, isn’t expressly forbidding LGBTQ individuals; it just takes a biblical interpretation towards premarital sex.
Thankfully, we live in a secular society where religion has absolutely no place in law and public policy—but if TWU is capable of developing a decent law school that can turn out competent and passionate lawyers who just happen to be Christian, then it deserves to be accredited. As long as it is not criminal or discriminatory, TWU deserves its right to freedom of religion. V