Our Charter rights relating to religious freedom were upheld today in Nova Scotia. The Nova Scotia Supreme Court has ruled that the Nova Scotia Barrister’s Society cannot prevent future graduates of Trinity Western University’s law school from practicing law in that province. The 137 page ruling was unambiguous in its confirmation of TWU’s Charter rights that relate to “freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression…”The right of a Christian community to have ethical and religious standards of conduct for its members was upheld. Trinity Western University grads cannot be discriminated against just because their school has a community conduct policy that embraces a biblical view of marriage. Two other provinces (Ontario and B.C.) have also barred TWU students from practicing law in their jurisdictions. There is still much work to do and your prayers and support are much appreciated. Here is the text of today’s media release:
EFC Media Release – January 28, 2015.
The EFC welcomes the decision of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia“This decision in TWU v. NSBS is a significant affirmation of the freedom of religious institutions to provide a quality education in an ethos in keeping with their religious tradition,” said Bruce J. Clemenger, President of The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. “Religious institutions have a long history of contributing to the public good of Canada and make up an important part of the Canadian mosaic.”In its decision released today, the Honorable Justice J. Campbell of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia found that the Nova Scotia Barristers Society (NSBS) did not have the authority to refuse to recognize law degrees from Trinity Western University’s (TWU) proposed law school. The NSBS had refused to recognize TWU law degrees unless the university changed its policy on student conduct. The university’s Community Covenant prohibits sexual intimacy for students outside of the marriage of a man and a woman.In his decision, Justice Campbell wrote:
“Learning in an environment with people who promise to comply with the code is a religious practice and an expression of religious faith. There is nothing illegal or even rogue about that. That is a messy and uncomfortable fact of life in a pluralistic society. Requiring a person to give up that right in order to get his or her professional education recognized is an infringement of religious freedom.”
Clemenger comments: “There was no evidence that graduates of the proposed law school would not be academically qualified or that they would be more likely to discriminate. The judge said the power of the state should not be used to force a private institution to change a legally protected policy because of an objection based in a different value system.” Justice Campbell clarified the role of the Charter:
“The Charter is not a blueprint for moral conformity. Its purpose is to protect the citizen from the power of the state, not to enforce compliance by citizens or private institutions with the moral judgments of the state.”
The EFC intervened in this case along with Christian Higher Education Canada (CHEC), an association of Christian higher education institutions. TWU is an affiliate of the EFC and a member of CHEC. For additional resources on the joint EFC and CHEC intervention in Trinity Western University v. Nova Scotia Barristers Society including the factum, visit www.theEFC.ca/TWUlaw.