By Jonathon Van Maren
Many of you have been following the case of British Columbia’s Trinity Western University for quite some time. With Canadian law societies claiming that law students from a university with Christian principles would be too warped and bigoted by those principles to practice law in Canadian society, the case winding its way to the Supreme Court of Canada is one of the most consequential for religious freedom in over a decade. If Trinity Western loses the case, it will confirm in law what many progressive politicians already affirm in the actions they are taking against Christian schools across the country: Christians, based on their beliefs in biblical sexuality, are now second-class citizens.
Last week, Trinity Western University President Bob Kuhn sent out an email updating TWU alumni on the progress of the case—and included some jarring new developments:
Dear TWU Alumni,
I wanted to let you all know that in two weeks, on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear arguments in Trinity Western’s case to have a law school. There has been a significant change in the Law Societies’ position since this case began, and I believe it is important that every member of the Trinity community understand this change.
The Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario) now says that it must reject Trinity Western not just because of Trinity’s position on marriage, but also because of our “distinctly Christian” environment. In its written argument filed with the Supreme Court of Canada, the Law Society highlighted every part of the Community Covenant it found discriminatory. The first two highlighted words were “Jesus Christ.” It has become apparent that along with the Christian virtues that we commit to practice, the law societies wish to prohibit the very faith that distinguishes this University.
I recognize that not everyone in our Trinity Western community agrees with the way marriage is defined in the Community Covenant. It is my sincere hope and prayer that, while our sometimes divergent views may be strongly held, we would stand together as a community, sustaining the distinctives that have made Trinity Western University all that it is today. I would ask that you join me, and many others across this country and beyond, in prayer for a constructive outcome that would benefit the community as a whole, while providing a deeply caring environment for all individuals who comprise this community.
I do not propose to set out the legal issues, nor argue the merits of the position that we have taken consistent with both well-established legal principles and the Christian values upon which Trinity Western was founded. A full explanation of the issues and links to the various relevant documents setting out the arguments can be found at our new resource website here. You can also visit our pray for freedom site for an additional supporting resource.
In preparing myself for the challenges we are facing I have placed directly in my line of sight under my computer screen the words of Christ found in John 16:33. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” This is not a time to be discouraged (I will share my own battles with discouragement in Chapel Tuesday of next week, November 21). This is a time to come boldly before the throne of God with our prayers for peace that only He can give as we submit to Him.
As always, my door remains open for discussions with any member of our Trinity Western community.
In His Service,
The current cultural climate has emboldened progressive activists who would have once insisted that there is no incompatibility between the society they want and the truths that Christ preached are beginning, slowly but surely, to abandon those feeble fictions. It is Christ Himself, as the Law Society for Upper Canada admits, Who is the problem. The lawyers must feel that they are pushing at an open door: After all, a poll earlier this year showed that over half of Canadians felt that religion does more harm than good.
Trinity Western University is one of the canaries in the coal mine, and we should all be watching it very closely.
For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.