||Volume 14, Number 1, September 2001|
BCCT vs TWU court case sparks debate
The B.C. College of Teachers lost its case when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on May 17, 2001 that Trinity Western University in Langley can graduate education students instead of sending them to SFU for their last year.
The BCCT did not approve of the TWU’s mission statement: "to develop godly Christian leaders: positive, goal-oriented, university graduates with thoroughly Christian minds" much less its student conduct code that requires students "to refrain from practices that are contrary to biblical teaching including premarital sex, adultery, homosexual behaviour."
The Supreme Court majority said, "Absent concrete evidence that training teachers at TWU fosters discrimination in the public schools of B.C., the freedom of individuals to adhere to certain religious beliefs at TWU should be respected. The proper place to draw the line is generally between beliefs and conduct. The freedom to hold beliefs is broader than the freedom to act on them." The judges went on to say, "Acting on beliefs is a very different matter. If a teacher in a public school system engages in discriminatory conduct, that teacher can be subject to disciplinary proceedings before the BCCT."
Ian Hunter, professor emeritus at the University of Ontario law faculty, summed it up this way, "In essence, the Supreme Court has ruled that there is a right to believe what you want as long as you never communicate those beliefs or attempt to put them into practice."
A member who graduated from TWU phoned to say that he was bothered by the BCTF’s support for the B.C. College of Teachers’ position as stated in the May issue of Staff Rep News.
"We hold beliefs about sin and god, but we keep them private," he said.
– Maureen MacDonald