Trinity Western drops mandatory community covenant for students

14 August 2018

Appears in: Archdiocesan News

After battling all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to defend its mandatory community covenant, Trinity Western University (TWU) has decided to drop it for students.

On Aug. 9, the Langley, B.C. university’s board of governors voted to no longer require students to sign the covenant that included a prohibition against sex outside of traditional marriage.

The governors passed the following motion:

“In furtherance of our desire to maintain TWU as a thriving community of Christian believers that is inclusive of all students wishing to learn from a Christian viewpoint and underlying philosophy, the Community Covenant will no longer be mandatory as of the 2018-19 Academic year with respect to admission of students to, or continuation of students at, the University.”

Former religious freedom ambassador Andrew Bennett

The decision follows a 7-2 Supreme Court of ruling against TWU in June that upheld decisions by the Law Society of British Columbia and the Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario) not to accredit TWU’s proposed law school because the covenant was deemed discriminatory against LGBTQ students.

“Further to this resolution, the university will actively work to determine ways in which our Christian identity, mission and ministry can continue to be strengthened, communicated and better lived-out in the context of the TWU community – while simultaneously welcoming and affirming the unique value of each member of our diverse student body,” said Robert G. Kuhn, president of Trinity Western University, in a statement.

Kuhn stressed that despite the decision, TWU “will remain a biblically-based, mission-focused, academically excellent university, fully committed to our foundational evangelical Christian principles.”

The Supreme Court’s TWU decisions were widely interpreted as a blow to religious freedom and associational rights by the many religious groups that intervened in the case, including the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Archdiocese of Vancouver, the Catholic Civil Rights League, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and the Canadian Council of Christian Charities.

Former Religious Freedom Ambassador Andrew Bennett said following the June 15 decision that the Supreme Court had “effectively” relegated “freedom of conscience and religion out of section 2 of the Charter.”

Archbishop Michael Miller of Vancouver said at the time of the decision it had the “potential to undermine freedom of religion, conscience, and association in Canada.”