This Week in Canadian Religion 2018-06-24

by | June 24, 2018

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

“WASHINGTON:I recently had an interesting exchange with a Canadian reader who objected to the notion of America regulating its borders. Who took issue with the idea of American Exceptionalism. Who thought America, but not Canada, should erase their borders. That open U.S. border was the only natural outcome for America.

“America is a shithole now and Trump and his cronies & supporters are the reason,” he insisted. “You’re setting human rights back decades to a time when it was great if you were a rich, white male. Religion needs to be abolished from any influence in your government.”

These are universally held notions worth unpacking.”


“In 2012, Trinity Western University, a Christian university in Langley, announced its plan to open a law school. The Law Societies of B.C., Ontario and Nova Scotia objected to TWU’s law school because it required its students to sign a covenant that students must restrict sexual relations to those between a man and woman within a lawful marriage.

The three law societies claimed the covenant was discriminatory against the LGBTQ community. Law societies of other provinces and territories had no objections to the covenant.

This conflict pitched the freedom of religion of a Christian university, whose right is written into S.2 of the Charter of Rights, against the rights of the LGBTQ community, whose rights were read into the Charter by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1992.

The Supreme Court faced a dilemma. It had concluded in a 2001 decision in Trinity Western University v. B.C. College of Teachers that if a conflict occurs between rights, there must be a balancing of such rights so as to fully respect the importance of both sets of rights. It concluded in that previous case that TWU graduates were eligible to become teachers.”


“Last week, the Supreme Court of Canada delivered its decision in Law Society of British Columbia (LSBC) v. Trinity Western University (TWU), a case that, in the context of a public regulatory decision, pitted religious freedom against equality rights.

A majority of the court held that the B.C. Law Society did not violate the university’s freedom of religion in refusing to approve its proposed law program, participation in which required students to sign a covenant not to engage in sexual intimacy outside of marriage between a man and a woman.

This covenant creates discrimination against those who practice homosexuality and, more generally, expresses TWU’s general institutional hostility towards homosexuality and homosexuals.

Graduates of Canadian law school programs qualify for admission to the process through which one can become a lawyer when a law program receives approval from the relevant provincial law society. Law societies are statutory bodies which, among other responsibilities, are mandated to give approval to law programs if satisfied that they provide appropriate professional education.”


“The Supreme Court’s decision affirming the right of provincial law societies to refuse to licence graduates of Trinity Western University’s law school is nominally a question of administrative law, but it touches on a more polarizing issue: the contest between traditional religious belief and the right to be free from discrimination.

Decided by a 7-2 majority, the ruling involves four separate reasons for judgment, including two concurrences and a spirited dissent.

This legal smorgasbord has inspired a wide variety of reactions that largely depend on one’s political perspective.”


Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott:

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