Canadian High Court May Curb Religious Freedom
The Supreme Court in Canada will rule on whether a Christian college that disapproves of homosexuality may train teachers for Canadian public schools.The case involves Trinity Western University (TWU) and the British Columbia College of Teachers (BCCT) in 1996 and may set a historic precedent concerning religious freedoms in Canada.The teacher-training program at TWU, a Christian school 20 miles east of Vancouver, was first denied full accreditation by BCCT in 1996. BCCT said TWU's stance that homosexuality is a sin amounted to discriminatory practice. BCCT warned that even though the program met all academic qualifications, teachers trained at TWU might discriminate against homosexual students.In September 1997, the British Columbia Supreme Court ordered BCCT to approve TWU's application for accreditation. BCCT appealed, and in 1998 the British Columbia Court of Appeals found again that BCCT's decisions to deny TWU accreditation "reflect an error in law and are factually and patently unreasonable."Guy S. Saffold, TWU executive vice president, says the Supreme Court ruling holds a great deal of significance for religious institutions in North America. "This case is about Christian people's religious right to maintain their beliefs and not be excluded because of them," Saffold says."If you can't train teachers because you disapprove of homosexuality, can you be a teacher if you disapprove of homosexuality? Can you be a doctor or a lawyer or a judge?" TWU expects a hearing date in the fall of 2000 or early 2001.