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CCMBC Statement re: TWU

by CCMBC Communications

CCMBC invites churches to pray for Trinity Western University

February 10, 2015

Dear Mennonite Brethren Churches of Canada,

The executive board of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (CCMBC) invites all MB churches to pray for Trinity Western University (TWU), Langley, B.C., as the school leads the charge on religious freedom in our country.

TWU is currently facing a battle with the B.C. government to obtain accreditation for its law degree program. In April 2014, the Law Society of B.C. voted to permit the school’s graduates to practice law in the province, but revoked their decision in late October.

At issue is the university’s community covenant, which states, in part, that “community members voluntarily abstain from sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.” Those opposed to TWU’s school of law are questioning students’ ability to practise law fairly and without discrimination.

To date, there has not been one case of discrimination by TWU graduates due to their training in a Christian school. In fact, the university’s community covenant affirms that “a distinctly Christian way of living finds its fullest expression in Christian love, which was exemplified fully by Jesus Christ, and is characterized by humility, self-sacrifice, mercy and justice, and mutual submission for the good of others.”

CCMBC recognizes that this legal challenge has the potential to impact churches and religious organizations across Canada. If TWU loses its case, this will set a precedent where personal rights overrule freedom of religion.

In an encouraging development, the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia ruled, on Jan. 28, that the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society does not have the authority to refuse to recognize law degrees conferred by TWU’s proposed school of law. In his ruling, Justice Campbell said there’s “nothing illegal or even rogue” about asking students to comply with a code of conduct based on religious convictions.

CCMBC encourages churches to pray, in particular, for TWU president Bob Kuhn and the university’s legal counsel, who stand in the middle of the controversy. “As a private Christian university, Trinity Western has demonstrated its place in Canada’s academic community, delivering some of Canada’s highest ranked professional programs,” says Kuhn. “We believe in diversity and the rights of all Canadians to their beliefs and values.”

The university encountered a similar battle in 2001, when it faced opposition from the B.C. College of Teachers following TWU’s request to open a school of education. The Supreme Court of Canada eventually ruled in favour of TWU.

TWU’s current legal battle signals the fact that religious freedom is under siege for all religions in Canada. Please consider how you might support TWU at this time, including speaking to your Member of Parliament to voice your concern.

As Christians, we recognize that, in this world, we will have trouble. We also take heart, knowing Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33). In this spirit of hope and peace, we want our voices to be heard. We believe it is possible to hold strong Christian convictions while continuing to function as valuable, contributing members of Canadian society.

Click here to download a PDF of this letter.

Willy Reimer
Executive Director

Canadian Conference of
Mennonite Brethren Churches

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