Dear Editor, In response to the editorial on June 17, “Change the Covenant,” I wish to clarify a number of things and respond to a few more.
First, the current TWU Community Covenant was finalized in 2009 after an 18-month consultation process with students, staff, faculty, and administration. It is not “antiquated” but both recent and current. Because a religious community like TWU retains a traditional definition of marriage does not mean that it is anti-gay or homophobic. A plain reading of the Community Covenant discloses that the TWU community is committed to the highest aspirations of Christian virtues, such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, compassion, humility, forgiveness, peacemaking, mercy, and justice.
Second, Dr. John Redekop is not a faculty member at TWU and was not at the time he wrote the commentary on Sharia law. Even had he been, TWU faculty members have academic freedom and are free to express their personal views on any particular subject they may wish, but in doing so they do not speak for the Trinity Western University. Likewise, Lindsey Mayhew is entitled to her personal views on the Community Covenant. While she is quite correct in her conclusion that LGBT students are welcomed as part of the TWU community, your extrapolation of the opinion of one student to the whole student body is as inappropriate as assuming that your opinion is representative of the whole of your readership.
Now, let me address your opinion. You state, without qualification, numerous conclusions that are both incorrect in fact and in law. Further, you fail to mention a number of key facts:
- TWU is a private Christian University (as defined in its charter legislation).
- TWU’s Mission Statement defines its purpose: “… to develop godly Christian leaders…” Students who seek such an educational environment choose to go to TWU, whereas those who do not value our community culture may choose to go elsewhere.
- In 2001, the Supreme Court of Canada concluded that TWU was lawfully entitled to maintain its community covenant and graduate fully qualified teachers into the public school system. Since that decision is directly comparable to the current situation and is still the law, it is curious that it was not even referenced in your editorial. After all, as you referenced, the rule of law plays a crucial role in our society.
- You also seem to have forgotten about the Civil Marriage Act, which legalized same-sex marriages in 2005, but clearly states that “…no person or organization shall be deprived of any benefit, or be subject to any obligation or sanction … solely by reason of their … expression of their beliefs in respect of marriage as the union of a man and woman to the exclusion of all others …”
- Before you accuse me of “picking a fight,” perhaps you need to refer to the fact that the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education, Federation of Law Societies of Canada, and the Law Society of British Columbia benchers fully approved TWU’s proposed School of Law, each after extensive review.
You state, “Canadians are quite accepting of other people’s views, spiritual beliefs, politics, sexual preferences and religions.” However, is the editor of Abbotsford Today similarly accepting? “Not so much, it turns out.” Blaming the Abbotsford homeless situation on the Christian community and our older citizens is unfair, without any factual basis, and shows a complete lack of respect for both groups.
The people of faith and the elders of our community deserve better, even amidst the rhetoric of a news editorial. Tolerance is a two-way street. It’s that simple.
President, Trinity Western University