in the province, including students in homeschooling and
private Protestant and Catholic schools.
In Canada’s constitutionally described “free and
democratic society,” the right
to “freedom of religion” is guaranteed. The EFC believes this
means such a course needs to
make room for instruction in
an environment that accepts and agrees
with the religious beliefs and educational
choices of parents and students.
On the other side of the country, Trinity
Western University was granted approval
to establish a law school
by the Federation of Law
Societies of Canada and
the British Columbia
Ministry of Advanced
Education. So start the
school, right? Wrong.
Several lawyers have
complained to their
provincial law societies (the professional
organizations that govern the practice of
law) that TWU grads will have an antigay
bias and should not be permitted to practise law.
This isn’t about course content or academic qualifications. TWU law students
would be graduating from a school that has
a curriculum approved in the same manner as every other Canadian law school.
This is about an antireligious bias that
perceives Christians as not being able to
practise law in accordance with the rules of
professional conduct to which every lawyer
in this country is subject.
I am and have personally met hundreds
of Canadian lawyers who are Christians.
There are more. We believe all people are
made in the image of God. We believe in
sin. We believe in redemption – a bloodstained cross, an empty tomb and a poured
out Holy Spirit.
We also believe discrimination against
The EFC is preparing to head into the Supreme Court of Canada for the 25th time on March 24 for the
Loyola High School v. Attorney General of
Loyola High School is a private Catholic school for about 750 boys in Grades
7 to 11. It has been directed by the Jesuits since its founding in Montreal in the
1800s. Its alumni include many prominent Canadians, including Georges Vanier,
former governor general of Canada; Jean
Vanier (his son), founder of L’Arche; comedians Don Ferguson and Roger Abbott of
the Royal Canadian Air Farce; Juno award-winning musician Sam Roberts; current
Minister of Finance Jim
Flaherty and a host of
While many Canadian high schools
might lay claim to a
similar roster of famous
Canadians, few do so
proclaiming that all
instruction takes place framed by a distinctly Christian perspective. That’s why
it was a shock to Loyola when Quebec’s
Minister of Education denied the school’s
request to teach the course content of the
new ethics and religious culture program
from the Catholic perspective for which
the school is known.
Loyola was already offering a similar
course in ethics and world religions, and
had been for years. But the Ministry of Education was clear. Ethics and religion could
not be taught in a Catholic school from a religious perspective. In essence, for a couple
of hours each week this Jesuit school was
being told to pretend it’s not Catholic, deny
the Catholic perspective on ethics and promote all religions as being equal.
The Government of Quebec requires
its secular version of the province’s religious heritage and its religion-free version
of ethical decision making be taught to
all elementary and high school students
religion, culture and Education in canada
By Don Hutchinson
activatechange Your World n froM ThE EfC’S CENTrE for fAITh AND PUBLIC LIfE
people because they
are gay or heterosexual, Christian or
Jewish, is wrong. In
fact, while that commitment is secured
in our faith, it is also
required in our professional practice.
Over a decade ago,
the EFC intervened
before the Supreme
Back then the court concluded that the
freedom to adhere to religious beliefs and
practices while attending TWU is to be
respected, noting there was no evidence
TWU’s training of teachers would foster
discrimination in the classroom.
The court noted the rules of conduct
of the teachers’ association would govern
practice as a teacher, but could not prevent
education in a Christian environment that
complied with academic requirements.
The same has held true for graduates
of TWU’s nursing school, business school
and seminary programs. Academic standards govern education. Professional standards govern practice.
The EFC hopes to not have to go back
to court on TWU’s already approved law
school, but we’re willing to do so.
A fair understanding of Canadian re-
ligion and culture needs to recognize the
presence of religion in culture. What is Can-
adian culture if not free, democratic and
accepting – even if not always necessarily
DON hu TchiNSON is vice-president and
general legal counsel with The Evangelical
fellowship of Canada and director of its
ottawa Centre for faith and Public Life.
he blogs at www.theEfC.ca/activateCfPL.
Please pray for our work. You can also support it financially at www.theEfC.ca/donate
or toll-free at 1-866-302-3362.
Legislating a particular educational philoso-
phy is a mistake. The professional practices
of graduates should speak for themselves.
Several lawyers have
TWU grads will have
an antigay bias.