Column on Trinity Western University was misleading

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Brian Hodder’s commentary, “Trinity Western University at odds with Canadian values,” (The Telegram, June 21) is highly misleading.

TWU is a private, legislatively mandated Christian university whose primary focus is to provide a liberal arts education to members of its evangelical Christian community.

As the Supreme Court of Canada stated in Trinity Western University vs. British Columbia College of Teachers (2001), “TWU is not for everybody; it is designed to address the needs of people who share a number of religious convictions.”

The Civil Marriage Act and the Supreme Court of Canada have respected the rights of religious communities to maintain their religious definitions of marriage.

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada and the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education each approved TWU’s School of Law proposal after an 18-month process carefully considering all issues, including the community covenant.

Both these bodies uphold Canadian law and Canadian values.

How can one claim that, “Here in Canada, we believe that people are to be judged on the qualities and abilities they possess” without also including those law students whose only “crime” is signing a document which contains a statement regarding the traditional Christian definition of marriage?

Bob Kuhn

President, Trinity Western University

Organizations: Trinity Western University, British Columbia College of Teachers, Supreme Court of Canada Christian university British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education

Geographic location: Canada

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  • Doug Smith
    June 26, 2014 - 12:45

    Ms. Waters, I feel I must commend you on a very thoughtful and reasoned commentary however I would not describe either the president of Trinity Western University or the Canadian justice system as reasoned or thoughtful so unfortunately your insightful comments will fall on deaf ears. Doug Smith, Grand Falls-Windsor

  • Virginia Waters
    June 26, 2014 - 10:44

    As I see it Bob, what we have here is a conflict between Charter protections based on religious grounds versus those of gender equality. Does one trump the other? Does the concept of religious freedom even mean what people like yourself have argued it to be - not merely protection from discrimination, but the right to carve out an entirely different civic structure for yourselves? Where do we stop. If your graduates are cleared for landing all across Canada, will the next step be to lobby for their appointment to the courts. Is that how a society allows accommodation for one group to be at the expense of another? I'm not of the LGBT community, but the way I see it is that there is an inherent distinction between those people and the people who belong to your particular brand of religion. Unlike the latter, the former are born that way. Their sexual orientation is decided by nature, not by choice - theirs or their parents. When we see - as we did recently - an adherent to a different brand of religion assert what he believed was his Charter right not to have any women present in his university class, then we have to start questioning whether this religious freedom racket is getting out of hand. And so now that we have a Charter challenge to the 2001 court decision cited in your letter, there are many of us who hope - this time out - the court gets it right. Hopefully the court - Canada's Supreme Court - will begin to redefine religious freedom as the right to worship your own concept of God without interference or discrimination so long as it does not impair the security or threaten the freedoms of others. And that's exactly what your UNIVERSITY FOR STRAIGHT LAWYERS is attempting to do - create your own Christian fundamentalist beachhead inside Canada's legal community where it can more easily promote your own sense of what societal standards should be at the expense of others.