ChristianGovernance eletter – January 25, 2013
Homosexualists hate the idea of a Christian law school.
Or do they?
We commented on this issue in our last eletter. Bill Flanagan, the president of the Canadian Council of Law Deans, objects to Trinity Western University being permitted to establish a Christian law school.
Since then, there have been at least four columns in the National Post pushing back on the criticism. The debate has been around the question of whether or not modern Canadian pluralism has room for a Christian law school. It’s the religious liberty question.
This is an important issue. But …
In the public debate thus far, the primary substantive issue has not yet been discussed – though it was mentioned by John Carpay in his piece.
Can anybody guess what that issue is?
Potentially it could have been discussed by those interviewed for the two Vancouver Sun and National Post news stories, and then was edited out by the writers. It hasn’t been discussesd yet in the four columns I’ve read on the controversy, though it was referenced by Mr. Carpay. This isn’t objectionable – if the substantive issue is going to be addressed at some point. But if it isn’t going to be examined, then it becomes an incomplete debate and a missed opportunity.
According to the initial news report by the Vancouver Sun’s Douglas Todd, Mr. Flanagan wrote in his letter to the Federation of Canadian Law Societies: “This is a matter of great concern for all members. … Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is unlawful in Canada and fundamentally at odds with the core values of all Canadian law schools.”
According to the article, the “discrimination” referenced is found in TWU’s “Bible-based ‘community covenant,’ which the council says makes clear that ‘gay, lesbian or bisexual students may be subject to disciplinary measures including expulsion’.” The covenant also bans such activities as gossip, lying and drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes on campus, as noted by Mr. Todd. It doesn’t single out homosexuality. Additionally, Mr. Todd reports: “In addition to opposing TWU’s ban on homosexual behaviour, Flanagan said the country’s law school deans join the Canadian Association of University Teachers in questioning whether authentic academic freedom exists at TWU, since all faculty must agree to the Bible-based standards.”
This is what infantilization will do to your heart and mind. Sex addiction, immediate gratification, blame-shifting and the modern humanist mind. Conjecture, innuendo, self-esteem and the rhetoric of discrimination. Blah, blah, blah!
But since the substantive issue has not yet been addressed by Bill Flanagan, we don’t yet really know whether or not homosexualists hate the idea of a truly Christian law school!
So, what’s the substantive issue that would be an adult’s real concern when it comes to the development of a Christian law school?
The Christians have not discussed this issue yet either in their responses to this criticism.
Janet Epp-Buckingham, the director of TWU’s Laurentian Leadership Centre in Ottawa, hinted at it in a couple of quotes printed by Mr. Todd. She may have made other comments that weren’t included. Mr. Todd seemed more interested in content that would cast her in a bad light, so he may have cut out some of these comments. He interviewed her for the article. He also says at the very end of the piece: “In this week’s interview, Epp-Buckingham continued to emphasize that Christians at public Canadian law schools ‘often find their beliefs to be marginalized,’ with professors ‘portraying people of faith as … people who are irrational’.”
Fair point, to be sure, but that’s surely not the primary reason for going to the trouble of setting up a Christian law school! And I know it wouldn’t be. One good reason to home school your children or to put them in a good Christian school is to protect them from hostile personal and academic influence in the formative years of their lives. Law school, however, is for adults, so that’s no longer a strong reason for Christians to avoid schooling among non-Christians.
A good reason, though, for university level students to avoid theologically hostile institutions is to avoid wasting money, paying one’s enemies to bombard you with nonsense, while ignoring or mocking your views. The earlier comment by Prof. Epp-Buckingham cited by Mr. Todd was in the following sentence: “One of many arguments Epp-Buckingham made for her dream of a law school at TWU is based on her view that Canada’s public law schools are ‘very similar to one another’.”
And that’s the substantive issue – but it was not developed in the story. And it wasn’t referenced by three of the four columns I’ve seen on the controversy.
The substantive issue then – and the one that would be of primary interest to serious adults (not people like Bill Flanagan) – is: “What will a Christian law school be TEACHING ABOUT LAW that is different from what today’s conventional humanist law schools are teaching about law?
This wasn’t the focus of John Carpay’s column, but he does make reference to this level of distinction with the following concise observation: “Canada has indisputably the most monolithic body of law schools in the western world. They are all of the same model, promoting a politically correct world view which rarely if ever questions the progressive orthodoxies of radical feminism, socialist economics, aboriginal entitlements, and libertine sexual politics. Those who shout the loudest for ‘tolerance’ and ‘diversity’ are in fact the most intolerant of any real diversity in opinion, as can be seen by the Canadian Council of Law Deans opposing the creation of a law school which might be different from all the others.”
We don’t need a Christian law school to shelter overly sensitive law students from the real world. We don’t need a Christian law school so that students can have time for devotions or a daily chapel service as part of their schedule. We need a Christian law school that will teach a different – Christian – theory of law.
If that’s not the intent, then the exercise is a complete waste of time. If that’s not the intent, then all this talk about the religious freedom and constitutional right to set up a Christian law school is little more than an academic exercise and a tedious rhetorical flourish in today’s “culture wars.”
But if that IS the intent, then we have the potential for another vital front in the resurgence of serious, culture-transforming Christianity in Canada. If that is the intent, then we have a serious effort in reclaiming territory from the socialist forces of bigotry, injustice, intolerance and affirmative action.
Interestingly, Jonathan Kay, in his piece for the National Post on this controversy, writes, “The world will not stop spinning on its axis if the country gains a new school that happens to be animated by English Canada’s founding Christian creed.”
Actually, from the perspective of the typical humanist, it would! But today’s non-Christians don’t believe that modern Christians have the depth of commitment and breadth of vision to accomplish such a monumental feat (and in most cases, sadly, they are correct), so they probably won’t take us too seriously. But this is something Mr. Flanagan should get wobbly in the knees over, instead of making a fool of himself with his comments about discrimination and his assertion that Biblical commitment is at odds with academic freedom – as though anyone not in a state of delirium could find academic freedom in the modern humanistic university!
And the question of content is the question to which Christians should want answers – rather than whether or not it’s theoretically acceptable to set up a Christian law school in Canada. That’s a question for the lawyers if this controversy goes to court. But the more important question right now to guide Christian prayer, and Christian parents’ aspirations for children who may want to pursue law, is what will this new Christian law school teach, and how will it be different from what is taught in today’s humanist law schools, and how will the content be Christian.
I’m sure those are the questions Prof. Epp-Buckingham would rather be answering than those from a hostile media and a pathetic “bigot chamber.”
One way or another, the advancement of the Kingdom of God necessitates the establishment of Christian law schools in Canada. If this one is thwarted by over-stimulated homosexualist opposition, then the vision will rise again. It’s unstoppable.
Since writing this column Thursday evening, the National Post Friday published a column by several law professors opposing a TWU law school. They move in the direction of the substantive issue: “The crux of the issue is how the discrimination and institutional environment at TWU impacts the ability of the school to teach law.”
They bring the issue of academic freedom and critical thinking into the discussion, though, and in the hands of a competent Christian, this line of argument doesn’t elevate the credibility of today’s conventional humanist law schools.
TWU should jump at the opportunity to articulate the distinction between the Christian approach to law that they hopefully plan to provide and the unjust, inequitable power religion which drives modern legal theory.