According to recent news reports, “the Law Society of Upper Canada has voted 28 to 21 against the accreditation of Trinity Western University’s proposed new law school in B.C.” The reason for this is that ‘Trinity Western University students must sign a strict Christian covenant governing behaviour, including abstaining from sexual intimacy ‘that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.’”
I do not see this to be a complex issue of any sort. It is nothing less than the outright suppression of a minority group for holding opinions that trasgress against the prevailing opinion. And an intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself is called “bigotry.”
Among the lame arguments offered in support of this decision are the following:
1. “It effectively excludes homosexuals from the school”
No, it doesn’t. It effectively prevents gay persons from making a private decision to go to a private evangelical Christian law school (for whatever reason), voluntarily signing an agreement not to engage in gay sex whilst attending the school, and having gay sex with someone who is unwilling to keep it to themselves. That’s what it does.
Implicit in this statement is that you can’t go through undergraduate university without having sex, which, although apparently unfathomable to most people, is entirely possible. And if you squint, you’ll see that it effectively prevents almost all other students from having sex as well, since most of them are not (or will not) be married. That “effectively excludes” a lot of people.
It is a voluntary abstention from an action, based on privately held religious beliefs. That gay people are uniquely prone to desiring the action is irrelevant; there are gay people who are Christian and nonetheless believe that they are divinely destined to remain celibate their entire lives.
2. “If a school excluded blacks, Asians (etc) would that be OK?”
Except that it doesn’t. Even if being born gay were completely analogous to being born black, having gay sex is *not* analogous to being black, for the simple reason that one cannot abstain from being black for a few years.
3. “I cannot vote to accredit a law school which seeks to control students in their bedrooms,” bencher Howard Goldblatt said.
Except that this is disingenuous, because telling students they have to wait until marriage has not been the subject of any of the controversy, nor would it have been, if the statement simply addressed sexual conduct “between two people.” Rather, Howard cannot bring himself to vote to accredit a law school full of people who believe that gay sex is immoral, in a country where gay rights are of special importance.
Nobody would say, of a hypothetical Muslim (or a Jewish or a Hidu) institution, that it “seeks to control students in their kitchens.” The dietary prohibitions would be looked upon as the voluntary (if unecessary) abstentions that they are.
Imagine Howard’s horror at what goes on in the U.S., with private Christian universities issuing such edicts as: “After dusk, students should not be alone with an individual of the opposite sex in any unlighted area.”
4. “It violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms”
Section 15 of the Charter says:
“Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability”
It doesn’t say: “Every individual has the right to attend a private evangelical Christian law school full of people who believe that looking at a person with lust in one’s eye is sufficient cause for eternal torment in the afterlife… and not have to sign an agreement to abstain from gay sex.”
If we’re going to go that route, the much more obvious “discrimination” of a Christian law school is discrimination against other religions.
5. “It violates a fundamental principle. Ontario ruled against religious arbitration.”
That decision was equally not an obvious moral imperative.
But it is, again, not analogous. There are no credible concerns of abuse, threats, intra-cultural blackmailing to submit to the arbitration, etc. Absolutely no one is going to be forced to go to this Christian law school and sign an agreement of this sort against their will–and even in such a scenario, they could privately violate it without producing any external evidence.
For all this hot air about “diversity,” Canadians only tolerate diversity of opinion up until it offends a strongly-held public sentiment. And this–exemplified here, and in other cases decided by human rights tribunals–I find repellent and unconscionable. What can be the rationale for refusing accredation to this school? It obviously cannot be to improve anyone’s life. It cannot be to uphold existing gay rights in society at large, since these are not at all threatened by such a thing. It definitely cannot be to prevent Christian lawyers from practicing law, out of fear of their prejudices (since Christians with these beliefs should then be banned from attending law school at all). It cannot be anything other than using legal powers to punish and suppress an opposing view, which is held in contempt by society.
What people ought to remember is that the whole West was once ruled by Christians, who suppressed and bullied all manner of dissenting private opinions. Times have changed (in Canada), and the Christians who once prescribed morality are now clustered in a tiny huddle, receiving due lashes from a secular society for their sins.
I personally find the evangelical (orthodox, in my opinion) Christian view on homosexuality nonsensical, harmful, and just one of a slew of telltale signs that the religion is man-made. But to police the private, consenting practice of such beliefs is tantamount to policing the thoughts themselves. The best places on earth are places where people don’t bear the prevailing opinion upon the lever arm of the state–not for any amount of certainty of their normative views, not for any amount of anger or righteous indignation, and never for revenge against those who have done the same in times past.