Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Queer students campaign against Christian law school

Yesterday Walt passed on a report that 2/3 of the self-identified Christians in Notsogreat Britain felt they have become a persecuted minority in their own land. Persecuted, that is, by "aggressive secularists" supported by their own government, headed by "Conservative" Prime Minister David Cameron.

Today we look at Canada, where one would think freedom of speech, freedom of religion and, indeed, freedom of thought, would be guaranteed by the Charter of Rights, thus safe from the predations of political correctness. One would be wrong.

Walt takes you now to Langley, British Columbia, the home of Trinity Western University.

TWU is a small(ish) university compared with behemoths like UBC, but it has a wide range of programmes, offering undergrad and graduate degrees in the humanities, education, even medicine. It would like to start a faculty of law, but its attempt so to do is meeting with opposition from the usual gang of social activitsts and secular humanists.

Why the fuss? It's because Trinity Western University is... wait for it... a "faith-based" institution of higher learning. That right, dear reader. Those people are religious!

The idea of having a law school where students would be taught real ethics and religious ideals is being challenged in a petition by students from eight other Canadian law schools. Their reasoning (if such it can be called) is that TWU's Christian policies discriminate against... wait for it (again)... the LGBT (queer) "community".

The homophiliacs' petition asks the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and the BC Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology [Why do the names of these government departments get longer and more complex every year? Ed.] to reject the accreditation of TWU's proposed law school, claiming parts of the university's student handbook are contrary to the rights of LGBT students, faculty and staff.

Here's the deal. If you want to study or work at TWU, you're asked to sign a Community Covenant Agreement, outlining the university's conduct expectations, and your rights and duties as a member of the institution. OK so far? It's normal, surely, for a school, company, social club, government agency -- any organization -- to have policies and procedures which you must accept, either explicitly or implicitly, if you want to belong.

But... TWU's Community Covenant Agreement contains a clause that requires community members to abstain from "sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman." Shock! Horror!

The handbook says that if a student fails to comply with the agreement after signing it, the university "reserves the right to discipline, dismiss, or refuse a student's re-admission to the University". In other words, if you break the agreement you signed, you exclude yourself from the organization.

But OUTlaw -- a group representing the LGBT gang at the University of Alberta -- doesn't see it that way. A spokesthingy, Christopher Ghesquier, told CBC Radio (natch!) "This discriminatory policy really does not represent Canadian law. I think it definitely does offer a less welcoming environment for LGBT students to attend [TWU]... Despite the fact that the law recognizes same-sex marriages, the school seems not to."

To which Walt says, so what, Chrissy?! You don't have to go to TWU if you don't think you will be welcome there. And you are already going to the University of Alberta law school, eh? So what's it to ya?!

Trinity Western was a little more moderate in its response. Their statement regarding the petition says the agreement being challenged was "rigorously researched and developed" after consultation with legal experts. "While we value and respect differing views, we trust that a faith-based community still has the religious freedom in Canada to maintain its beliefs and participate fully in society."

Walt hopes TWU's trust that Canadian law societies and governments uphold the rights of religious minorities -- such as practising Christians -- is not misplaced. Walt hopes... but will not bet. Lifetime pct, like freedom of religion in our secular society, does not apply.

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