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A lawsuit against B.C.’s government is seeking to quash its approval of Canada’s first faith-based law school, part of Trinity Western University, which prohibits same-sex intimacy. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
A lawsuit against B.C.’s government is seeking to quash its approval of Canada’s first faith-based law school, part of Trinity Western University, which prohibits same-sex intimacy. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

THE CONVERSATION

April 19: This week's Talking Point – equality rights versus religious freedom – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Students and staff at Trinity Western University’s faith-based law school must keep a convenant that prohibits ‘sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.’ Readers, print and digital, weigh in on the balance between equality rights and religious freedom

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I don’t think anyone attending this school will be greatly inconvenienced by this policy, since they’ll already believe sex before marriage and homosexuality are sins, anyway. The more intelligent of the population can attain their law degrees elsewhere.

Gavin Guthrie, Toronto

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Clayton Ruby is wrong when he, again, portrays Trinity Western University as having policies that are hateful and unconstitutional (Sex And The Law – letters, April 16). TWU has simply maintained its religious definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. Despite approvals of our law school by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, the B.C. Ministry of Advance Education and the B.C. Law Society, Mr. Ruby continues to vilify TWU.

We should all be thankful that the Charter protects religious freedom and equality on the basis of religion. Across Christendom for the past two millenniums, the definition of marriage has consistently been between a man and a woman. That is why the legislation that redefined marriage specifically guaranteed the right to maintain the long-held religious definition of marriage.

Despite what Mr. Ruby may think or start lawsuits over, Canada is a diverse and tolerant country with room for a plurality of institutions, including religiously based universities like TWU.

Bob Kuhn, president, Trinity Western University

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An example of why Quebeckers want a charter of values. We need it in writing that equality and human rights come before religious freedom.

Rebekah Crown, Montreal

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Margaret Wente says TWU’s code “doesn’t mean that gay students aren’t welcome” (Intolerance Is Now A Vice Of The Left – April 15). Is she seriously contending that this welcome extends to students in a gay marriage? The real question is not if TWU is discriminatory, but if it should nevertheless be permitted on grounds of religious freedom to teach law students.

Some on the left think that equality should take precedence over liberty, but not all liberals think so. If Ms. Wente is familiar with current work on liberalism, she will be familiar with what some regard as the paradox of liberalism, namely that liberal tolerance may not extend to the intolerant. To what extent society should tolerate those who are intolerant is a serious issue. Despite the Charter, Canada does not tolerate all intolerance.

The claim that “the most progressive forces in society” now fight to shut down anyone who says something they don’t like is absurd, a willful amalgamation of extremists and progressives.

Mark Thornton, Toronto

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If a person does not agree with the stand taken by a university, don’t go there.

John Dowell, Langley, B.C.

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So gay students can apply to “umpteen other universities” apart from Trinity Western? I’m sure as they travel to those other universities, they will also avoid the front seats of the bus. After all, there are umpteen other seats at the back.

Jonathan Colvin, Richmond, B.C.

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As a former university administrator, I find the controversy over Trinity Western very interesting to follow. What strikes me as unusual is the failure to recognize that a goodly proportion of our Canadian universities started as religious institutions. Over time, much of that identification has lapsed. But it is certainly part of our postsecondary history.

Perhaps a better example close at hand is that of the United States. Religious affiliations in the U.S. university system are commonplace in terms of origin, and many of those ties continue to this day. Somehow they get along just fine without this sort of TWU controversy.

Margaret Wente is correct that TWU is a strong school academically that produces very able graduates.

George Pedersen, Vancouver

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How is this covenant enforced, unless of course it is just an empty, degrading signing ritual?

As middle-of-the-night break-ins à la Alan Turing are unlikely in this enlightened age, will it be a matter of more enlightened snitching, spying, rumour and secret interrogations à la Star Chamber?

Doris Wrench Eisler, St. Albert, Alta.

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The canard of religious freedom seems to be an excuse to further goals that are important to Trinity Western but restrict the freedom of others who disagree with them. Allowing this may encourage other institutions to become universities that are only interested in furthering their own narrow views.

J. B. Ross, Orangeville, Ont.

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Excluding gays only serves to limit the diversity of people and their perspectives in the legal classroom. Are we to believe that to condemn this discrimination constitutes intolerance?

Were abolitionists wrongly intolerant of slavery? Were suffragists unfairly intolerant of those who would deny them the vote?

Carefully selected biblical references have been used throughout history to deny equality rights. Christianity thrives despite equality on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation and gender identity. TWU’s current practices are no more Christian than these older forms of prejudice, and should not be afforded tolerance by modern Canadian society.

Robert Peterson, Manotick, Ont.

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ON REFLECTION Letters to the editor

Fair? A national ID card

Critics of vouching have a point, paranoid though it may seem to others.

Whether one agrees with the Fair Elections Act or not, it has shed light on the need for a national identity card, which would allow the homeless or temporarily homeless to vote, register in provincial or federal programs and be properly identified at a morgue. Eliminating vouching would be fair only if the government also implemented an emergency “action” plan to provide every adult with legally acceptable ID in time for the next election.

Helen Schiele, Kelowna, B.C.

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No to dual nationals

Re Can We Really Wash Our Hands Of These Dual Nationals? (April 17): Notwithstanding Konrad Yakabuski’s arguments, it is a long time since we had an open discussion regarding dual nationals and why we continue to countenance them.

Too many are opportunistic; Canada has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars “saving” those who, after obtaining citizenship here, choose to live in their country of birth until it becomes too dangerous.

We rescue them – then they go back when things quiet down.

Enough!

Stella Watson, Toronto

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Freedom vs. independence

One day, Quebec will become a sovereign nation, an emotional Pauline Marois predicts as she heads out the door. “We are able to do it if we decide to choose this freedom” (Au Revoir, Marois – April 17).

I’m sick of this. Freedom, she has. It is independence she wants. There is a huge difference between the two words, and words matter.

J. David Gorrell, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

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Putinismo’s pull

Re Putinismo Is More Admired Than You Think (April 17): Putinism is here because Obamaism is nowhere. Pity those – in Syria, Ukraine, Latin America, Africa – who looked to precedent and took a chance in their fight for self-determination.

In the cold calculus of national and economic interests, they are joining the ash heap of failed revolutions. Barack Obama has failed the test of leadership on the world stage; Vladimir Putin and others are filling this vacuum. It needn’t be this way, given America’s power and presumed ideals.

Elie Mikhael Nasrallah, Ottawa

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