(Following article updates a previous version and makes clear that it is a proposed law school).
By BosNewsLife Americas Service
STREETSVILLE, CANADA (BosNewsLife)– A Canada-based Christian rights group has urged Canadian believers to pray for religious freedom in their country after British Colombia Law Society refused to accredit graduates of a major Christian university.
The Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC) said graduates of a proposed Trinity Western University (TWU) law school would “not longer be able to practise law” in Canada’s western British Columbia province.
The Law Society’s decision came after a referendum in which provincial lawyers rejected TWU’s practise of requiring students to sign a controversial pledge on personal conduct.
That pledge includes a promise to abstain from sex outside “traditional marriage” between a man and a woman. Those supporting the TWU accreditation ban say the pledge raises same-sex equality rights, but VOMC suggested it pits these critics “against religious freedom in Canada.”
TWU President Bob Kuhn agrees. “We find ourselves in the middle of a very significant conflict. The quality of our program and the quality of our graduates are not being challenged. Instead, the issue is whether the faculty, staff and students of TWU are allowed to live, work and study together in a community that honours the traditional Christian conception of marriage,” he said in a statement.
“That issue touches on the fundamental freedoms and equality rights that go to the core of Canada’s existence as a truly free and democratic society.”
He said the university “never imagined that our proposal to offer legal ducation at a private Christian university would spark a national controversy, but that is what we face today.”
The troubles came as a major setback as TWU already “finalized its proposal for a School of Law in 2012 after more than 20 years of planning, extensive consultation and detailed preparation,” Kuhn explained.
TWU, “followed the new national guidelines for accreditation established by the law societies of Canada and the requirements of the Minister of Advanced Education for British Columbia for offering a new degree program,” he said.
Following a difficult process, TWU had the necessary approvals by December 2013, but “a year later, the situation has changed dramatically,” Kuhn added.
In 2001, when the British Columbia College of Teachers excluded TWU students, Canada’s Supreme Court ruled in favour of the university. “The law school is essentially the same issue,” argued TWU spokesman Guy Saffold in published remarks.
He did not rule out to sue the province’s Law Society based on the Canadian Charter of Rights legislation.
“We’d certainly like to find a way to resolve it apart from the legal process,” he added. “We’re quite committed as a Christian university to our religious beliefs, and those are not things we could easily compromise.”
In a prayer appeal to supporters, VOMC said the Law Society’s decision “is not just a concern to the university, but to all Canadian Christians because it sets a precedent affecting freedom of religion in our country.”
News of the troubles facing Christian Canadian students comes amid wider concerns among rights activists that perceived persecution of devoted Christians is spreading from more autocratic and Islamic nations, towards the West including North America.
“GROWING RELIGIOUS ILLITERACY”
Additionally, the Catholic charity ‘Aid to the Church in Need’ (ACN) noted in its latest religious freedom report a “rise of religious intolerance and “aggressive atheism” in Western Europe.”
And, it noted, a growing “religious illiteracy” among Western policy makers, “leading to misunderstandings in foreign policy areas.”
While “thanking God for the freedoms that we [still] have here in Canada” VOMC asked its supporters to “please pray” that the BC Law Society’s decision to refuse accreditation to law students at TWU would be overturned.
“May the members of the law society see clearly that the rights and religious freedom of all Canadians have equal value under the law,” VOMC said in the statement obtained by BosNewsLife.
“Ask that this case will be resolved quickly apart from the legal process, and that the Lord’s purposes would prevail in the lives of these law students.”
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