Friday, April 25, 2014

Clear as Mud

Life can be complicated. What, you have already discovered this?

I have been following the story of the accreditation of the law school at Trinity Western University in British Columbia. This university has a strong reputation for academic achievement and it is certainly a legitimate institution of higher education. It also holds conservative Christian values, including insistence that homosexual activity and relationships are sinful and contrary to scripture. So, how could a law school produce lawyers who are trained in this climate who are then able to work within a judicial system which now upholds equal marriage and rights?

The argument is that they can't, and Ontario has already said it will not allow Trinity law grads to practice in the province. I find myself conflicted about all this. I would not have wanted any of our three children to attend Trinity Western because of some of the university's core Christian tenets. While that would never have happened, I would have accepted the choice if they had. What if one of them had wanted to study law there? Would he or she been incapable of practicing law because of those values?

I daresay there are many lawyers in this province who were called to the bar from prestigious law schools such as Osgoode Hall when homosexuality was illegal, and some of them may have prosecuted LGBT individuals as crown attorneys. Some of them may have done so out of their own deep anti-gay convictions, and may still hold them. But the laws changed and they have accepted changing societal mores, and the laws of the land. Would it be impossible for Trinity Western law graduates to do the same? Besides, there are probably a fair number of TW students who do not consider homosexuality a sin, but chose to attend a conservative Christian school for other reasons. There has been a significant shift in this regard amongst younger evangelicals, so it may be that graduates have already chosen different outlooks.

Ultimately lawyers represent clients whose values they often do not share. And much of the law is mundane stuff about property.

I do get that accredited institutions should not have prejudices condoned because of religion, but there are still grey areas in this regard.

Clear as mud? What are your thoughts? Should a liberal society make room for institutions which don't share all its liberal convictions?

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