Yes, Finally The Court gets It Right! Christians Have Rights ,Too , Under our Constitution !

Here is the introduction of a Great Decision, BC Court of Appeal —-The Law Society of BC vs Trinity Western University. How educated people can get it so wrong!

‘The Law Society decided not to approve a law school at TWU because students attending TWU must sign a Community Covenant which does not recognize same-sex marriage. TWU sought judicial review. The decision was set aside by the chambers judge. The Law Society appealed. Held: Appeal dismissed.

The issue on appeal is whether the Law Society met its statutory duty to reasonably balance the conflicting Charter rights engaged by its decision: the sexual orientation equality rights of LGBTQ persons and the religious freedom and rights of association of evangelical Christians. The Benchers initially voted to approve TWU’s law school. That decision was met with a backlash from members of the Law Society who viewed it as endorsement of discrimination against LGBTQ persons. The Benchers decided to hold a referendum and to be bound by the outcome. A majority of lawyers voted against approval. The Benchers then reversed their earlier position and passed a resolution not to approve TWU’s law school.

In doing so, the Benchers abdicated their responsibility to make the decision entrusted to them by the Legislature. They also failed to weigh the impact of the decision on the rights engaged. It was not open to the Benchers to simply adopt the decision preferred by the majority. The impact on Charter rights must be assessed concretely, based on evidence and not perception.

The evidence before the Law Society demonstrated that while LGBTQ students would be unlikely to access the 60 additional law school places at TWU’s law school if it were approved, the overall impact on access to legal education and hence to the profession would be minimal. Some students who would otherwise have occupied the remaining 2,500 law school seats would choose to attend TWU, resulting in more options for all students. Further, denying approval would not enhance access to law school for LGBTQ students.

In contrast, a decision not to approve TWU’s law school would have a severe impact on TWU’s rights. The qualifications of students graduating from TWU’s law program would not be recognized and graduates would not be able to apply to practise law in British Columbia. The practical effect of non-approval is that TWU cannot operate a law school and cannot therefore exercise fundamental religious and associative rights that would otherwise be guaranteed under s. 2 of the Charter.

In a diverse and pluralistic society, government regulatory approval of entities with differing beliefs is a reflection of state neutrality. It is not an endorsement of a group’s beliefs.

The Law Society’s decision not to approve TWU’s law school is unreasonable because it limits the right to freedom of religion in a disproportionate way — significantly more than is reasonably necessary to meet the Law Society’s public interest objective.

Reasons for Judgment of the Court:

I. INTRODUCTION

[1] This case raises important issues about tolerance and respect for differences in a diverse and pluralistic society. Trinity Western University (TWU) wishes to operate a law school. The Law Society of British Columbia (the Law Society) refused to approve TWU’s proposed law school because TWU’s Community Covenant does not recognize same-sex marriage.

[2] The question before the Court is whether the Law Society’s decision was reasonable. Answering that question requires us to consider conflicting and strongly-held views, and to reconcile competing rights. On one side are the rights, freedoms and aspirations of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer (LGBTQ) persons and their place in a progressive and tolerant society; on the other are the religious freedom and rights of association of evangelical Christians who sincerely hold the beliefs described in the Covenant and nurtured by TWU.

[3] In a speech given in 2002, Chief Justice McLachlin spoke of the “clash of commitments” in our country between the “prevailing ethos” of the rule of law and the claims of religion (“Freedom of Religion and the Rule of Law” (René Cassin Lecture, McGill University, 11 October 2002), published in Douglas Farrow, ed., Recognizing Religion in a Secular Society: Essays in Pluralism, Religion, and Public Policy (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2004). The Chief Justice called this a “dialectic of normative commitments” at 21-22:

What is good, true and just in religion will not always comport with the law’s view of the matter, nor will society at large always properly respect conscientious adherence to alternate authorities and divergent normative, or ethical, commitments. Where this is so, two comprehensive worldviews collide. It is at this point that the question of law’s treatment of religion becomes truly exigent. The authority of each is internally unassailable. What is more, both lay some claim to the whole of human experience. To which system should the subject adhere? How can the rule of law accommodate a worldview and ethos that asserts its own superior authority and unbounded scope? There seems to be no way in which to reconcile this clash; yet these clashes do occur in a society dedicated to protecting religion, and a liberal state must find some way of reconciling these competing commitments.

[4] For reasons explained in greater detail below, we have determined that the Law Society’s decision not to approve TWU’s law school was unreasonable.’

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