Religious hate speech/discrimination in Canada
2013-2014: Reactions to the Trinity
Western (TWU) law school controversy
We use the acronym "SSM" throughout this section to represent "same-sex marriage"
We use the acronym "LGBT" to refer to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons
and transsexuals. The acronym "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.
Reactions to the controversy at the proposed law school at Trinity Western University:
- Bob Kuhn, the president of TWU said that the accreditation refusals
"... send the chilling message that you cannot hold religious values and also participate fully in public society." 1
- Responses by readers of The Toronto Star newspaper about the decision of the Law Society of Upper Canada were mixed. The readers all appear to agree that bigotry and discrimination is involved, but they aren't in agreement over who is the vicim and who is the perpetrator. Some criticize the school for discriminating against the LGBT community; others criticize the Law Societies and society in general for criticizing the schools wish to have the freedom to discriminate against sexual minorities. Some sample postings are:
- Stephen Langevin posted:
"The suggestion that a religious institution should be allowed to do so is an utter perversion of the concept of religious freedom."
- RCR6 posted:
"So again in this wonderful country of Religious freedom the tail once again wags the dog. I still do not appreciate that the homosexual community has stolen a word from our vocabulary but also that we now have to bend over backwards, (no pun intended) to please these people. I really don't care what they do with each other but time they stopped dictating to the rest of the world."
- Starbycat posted:
"As a Christian I find this difficult yet the church and teachings I follow are less dogmatic and thus I feel that religious concerns should not trump cultural or societal rights. The last thing I want to see as a Canadian are groups of religious people being allowed to discriminate on the basis of sex, age, color, status or sexual preference. This is Canada and I don't want to have what I consider to be Canadian values to be changed by religious groups."
- RichardGanton posted:
"This is bigotry on their part. They are basically saying that Christian belief is bigotry. This violates the right to religious freedom in Canada. They are saying that anybody who is a Christian lawyer or a judge is a bigot."
"Bravo! It's about time that someone told this excuse for a university that judgmental bigotry isn't welcome in Ontario especially when it comes disguised as somehow being 'Christian' behaviour. Try as I might, I can't find any biblical reference to Christ weighing on the subject of homosexuality. 2
- Kimberly Potter, a Toronto, ON lawyer, wrote an article in the Commentary section of the Toronto Star which delivers a different insight to the topic. She wrote, in part: 1
This space is currently left blank while we seek copyright approval to quote Ms. Potter's article
2014-APR-25: Trinity Western (TWU) law school refused accreditation in Nova Scotia:
During public hearings on TWU accreditation earlier in 2014, a number of lawyers and legal experts condemned TWU's policies. Elaine Craig, who is on the faculty of the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University, said that to accredit TWU's law school would be to sanction "blatant and explicit discrimination" and violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
By a narrow vote of 10 to 9, the Nova Scotia Barrister's Society council voted to discriminate against proposed TWU's law school because TWU asserts the religious freedom to discriminate against sexual minorities. The Society would allow TWU law school graduates to practice law in Nova Scotia, but not to article there.
Bob Kuhn, president of TWU, objected to the refusal to accredit the proposed law school. He questioned whether there is meaningful freedom of religion in the country. 3
The solution to TWU's quandary is obvious. If TWU were to stop insisting on the right to exercise its religious freedom by discriminating against minorities within their student body, it is certain that all of the Law Societies across Canada would stop discriminating against the TWU law school and would accredit their school. However, it would appear that TWU would have to take the first step.
Further developments are likely.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Kimberly Potter, "Trinity Western debate not a conflict over competing rights," Toronto Star, 2014-MAY-06, at: http://www.thestar.com/
- Jane Gerster, "Law Society votes against accrediting controversial Christian law school," Toronto Star, 2014-APR-24, at: http://www.thestar.com/
- Keith Doucette and Melanie Patten, "No articling for Trinity Western law students in Nova Scotia," Maclean's, 2014-APR-25, at: http://www.macleans.ca/
Copyright © 2013 & 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2013-MAR-02
Latest update: 2014-APR-08
Author: B.A. Robinson