28 Jan 2015 Praise God! We won! Judge rules in favour of TWU
We have great news to share – Justice Campbell from the Nova Scotia Supreme Court has ruled in favour of Trinity Western University and religious freedom!
During our fall tour and through our newsletters, we had asked you to pray for the court hearing in Halifax that took place December 16-19 and for wisdom for Justice Campbell. God has answered our prayers. Thanks and praise to Him alone!
This case was fundamentally about religious freedom and whether a private Christian school had the freedom to establish a law school rooted in Christian principles. Furthermore, the principle being advanced by those opposed to TWU’s law school was that if you belong to a community that holds its members to a Biblical lifestyle standard, then you will be denied equal access to the public square.
The NSBS attempted to refuse graduates from the proposed law society from practicing law in Nova Scotia, arguing that recognizing the TWU law school as a valid law school would “send a clear signal to citizens that discrimination is acceptable and justifiable.” The irony of the NSBS arguments was that the NSBS itself was actually perpetuating discrimination. For more on this case, click here. To read the full 137-page decision of Justice Cambell, click here. To read our press release click here.
We are very thankful for the decision today. It corrects the false premise that members of Christian communities are somehow less suitable for public engagement because of our worldview. This decision opens the door to the public square for members of Canada’s churches. As Justice Campbell wrote at para. 271, “The discomforting truth is that religions with views that many Canadians find incomprehensible or offensive abound in a liberal and multicultural society. The law protects them and must carve out a place not only where they can exist but flourish.”
This judgment leaves no question that if religious freedom is really a constitutionally protected right, it cannot be undermined simply because a person or organization doesn’t like that someone else holds themselves to moral guidelines they disagree with. This decision is a gust of wind in the sails of the proposed Christian law school and for freedom in general. It reveals the irony that the law societies which claim to be upholding diversity are the ones most in violation of our fundamental freedoms.
So, where to from here? This decision will have some persuasive effect in the lawsuits ongoing in Ontario and B.C. However, this decision is not binding on those provinces. In fact, there is a good chance that the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society might appeal the decision. And if an Ontario or B.C. court were to rule against TWU, this case may have to go all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.
We are thankful that the Lord has heard and answered our prayers in this case. But don’t stop praying now! Give God thanks and praise for what He brought about in Nova Scotia today, and then continue to pray that justice and righteousness may prevail in Ontario and B.C. To God be the glory!
Here are some other strong sentiments from the judgment:
The following quotes come from the judge’s decision, which is available at http://www.courts.ns.ca/Decisions_Of_Courts/documents/2015nssc25.pdf
The NSBS has characterized TWU’s Community Covenant as “unlawful discrimination”. It is not unlawful. It may be offensive to many but it is not unlawful. TWU is not the government. Like churches and other private institutions it does not have to comply with the equality provisions of the Charter. [para. 10]
The Charter is not a blueprint for moral conformity. Its purpose is to protect the citizen from the power of the state, not to enforce compliance by citizens or private institutions with the moral judgments of the state. [para. 10]
People have the right to attend a private religious university that imposes a religiously based code of conduct… Learning in an environment with people who promise to comply with the code is a religious practice and an expression of religious faith. There is nothing illegal or even rogue about that. That is a messy and uncomfortable fact of life in a pluralistic society. Requiring a person to give up that right in order to get his or her professional education recognized is an infringement of religious freedom. [para. 11]
It is hardly a pressing objective for a representative of the state to use the power of the state to compel a legally functioning private institution in another province to change a legal policy in effect there because it reflects a legally held moral stance that offends the NSBS, its members or the public. [para. 13]
While the society may be largely secular, in the sense that religion has lost its hold on social mores and individual conduct for many people, the state is not secular in the sense that it promotes the process of secularization. [para. 19]
The idea of calling the expression of a person’s sexual identity a “sin” is cringe-worthy or anachronistic at best. But not everyone agrees. They are not moral outliers with aberrant views requiring education at best, or coercion at worst, by more thoughtful and progressive government agencies. [para. 23]
For many people in a secular society religious freedom is worse than inconsequential. It actually gets in the way. It’s the dead hand of the superstitious past reaching out to restrain more important secular values like equality from becoming real equality. A more progressive society, on that view, would not permit any incursions by religion into public life or would at least limit those incursions to those by religions that have belief systems and practices that are more consonant with mainstream morality. The discomforting truth is that religions with views that many Canadians find incomprehensible or offensive abound in a liberal and multicultural society. The law protects them and must carve out a place not only where they can exist but flourish. [para. 271]
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