Proposed Christian law school under fire from deans
CTV British Columbia
Published Thursday, January 17, 2013 10:25PM PST
Last Updated Friday, January 18, 2013 9:50AM PST
Plans to add a law department on the Trinity Western University campus are coming under fire because of a controversial oath students and faculty are required to swear.
The Council of Canadian Law Deans issued a letter this week criticizing the Christian university’s Community Covenant, which expressly forbids homosexual relationships on campus.
“In keeping with biblical and TWU ideals, community members voluntarily abstain from… sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman,” it reads.
Violating the covenant can result in penalties, including expulsion, though the university insists it has never thrown out a student for being gay.
CCLD president William Flanagan said the document, as it stands, is fundamentally opposed to the core values held at every law school in the country.
“A policy like this is a policy that expressly discriminates against lesbian and gay students,” Flanagan said.
TWU president Dr. Jonathan S. Raymond said the covenant and the ideals it contains are an important part of the university’s Christian identity.
That doesn’t make the school unfriendly to homosexuals, he added.
“There’s nowhere in any document that we say something hostile towards gays or lesbians,” Raymond said.
Asked what would happen if a married same-sex couple were found to be students at TWU, Raymond said “I don’t know.”
“Do you know why? It’s the beginning of a conversation. It’s never happened.”
Students at the university told CTV News they know of gay students on campus, and that they have never seen hateful behaviour towards them.
The TWU covenant also bans gossip, vulgar language, pornography and alcohol consumption on campus, even by adults.
A post on the university’s website dated for Dec. 5, 2012 states that faculty anticipate the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to approve the new law school within six to 12 months.
If approved, TWU estimates the school would be open in September 2015.
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s St. John Alexander