The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada has welcomed a Canadian Supreme Court ruling upholding the right of teachers trained at a Christian university to gain professional accreditation.
The legal dispute was sparked when the British Columbia College of Teachers (BCCT) announced it would not grant automatic professional certification to graduates of Trinity Western University’s education degree program. Students and faculty at Trinity Western, a Christian institution, are required to agree to a code of conduct, pledging to refrain from extramarital sex, including homosexual activity. BCCT argued this code of conduct creates the risk that teachers graduating from Trinity Western will discriminate against homosexuals in the classroom. Without BCCT accreditation, teachers cannot be employed in British Columbia’s public schools.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled May 17 that BCCT had acted unfairly. One justice wrote that freedom of religion “is not accommodated if the consequences of its exercise is the denial of the right of full participation in society.”
In a statement released soon after the court’s ruling, Adventist leaders applauded the decision as a resounding affirmation of religious freedom. “This ruling confirms the right of the Adventist Church and its institutions, including Canadian University College, to uphold moral teaching in a non-discriminatory environment,” the statement said.
Religious freedom means that groups within a society must be free to teach and practice moral beliefs that others may not agree with, the statement added. “We express appreciation to the Supreme Court in Canada for their confirmation and support of these freedoms in Canada’s pluralistic society.”
The Adventist Church in Canada, along with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, had filed briefs and presented argument in support of Trinity Western University.