CCCB Statement Re: Supreme Court Decision in the Trinty Western University Case

Wednesday, May 16 2001

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, which was an intervener in the case, welcomes the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada to uphold the decisions of the lower Courts which ordered the B.C. College of Teachers to grant accreditation to the teacher education program of Trinity Western University. The B.C. College of Teachers had refused to approve the program because Trinity Western requires its faculty and students to live by a set of Community Standards in which they agree to refrain from certain practices, including homosexual behaviour.

The decision is a strong affirmation and much needed reminder that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right and public freedom that is guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It confirms that it is wrong to stereotype people with religious beliefs as intolerant or to suggest that students of religious institutions are unqualified to work in the public sector. It underlines that it is not acceptable to withhold a public benefit from an individual or a religious institution on the basis of belief as distinct from merit. It reinforces the understanding that genuine pluralism makes room for a variety of beliefs from a variety of sources, and that in a truly free society there is freedom of but not freedom from religion.