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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Mark Kellner

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

Days after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against the accreditation of a Christian university’s proposed law school, school leaders said they are considering making its controversial community covenant optional. Doing so, they hope, would satisfy those who believe the covenant discriminates against LGBTQ applicants and allow the law school to open.

Earl Phillips, executive director of the School of Law at Trinity Western University, told Religion News Service that the 7-2 ruling by Canada’s highest court on June 15 suggested a workaround for the evangelical school based in Langley, British Columbia. In twin cases, the law societies of Ontario and British Columbia argued that TWU’s community covenant, which prohibits sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage, discriminates against LGBTQ applicants for admission. The court majority agreed with the law societies.

The majority wrote, “The (Law Society of British Columbia’s) decision prevents the risk of significant harm to LGBTQ people who feel they have no choice but to attend TWU’s proposed law school. These individuals would have to deny who they are for three years to receive a legal education.”

Allowing students to decide whether or not to sign the covenant would potentially allow the law school to gain accreditation. If it were to open, it would be Canada’s first private law school and first Christian law school.

“The decision seems to emphasize (that the majority’s) concern was that we have a mandatory community covenant that deals with matters regarding sexual relations, and the implication of that is that if it wasn’t mandatory that it could be acceptable,” Phillips said. “So, this is one of the key issues we have to look at and discern and see if that is a possibility. And then the (school) community has to consider whether any change to the community covenant could be possible.”

The ruling was a departure from a 2001 Supreme Court of Canada ruling in TWU’s favor over a teacher training program. In that case, the British Columbia College of Teachers, which licenses public school educators, denied accreditation for the school’s program, claiming the covenant would produce educators biased against LGBTQ youth. A majority of justices hearing that case ruled in TWU’s favor, noting that “British Columbia’s human rights legislation accommodates religious freedoms.” Today, TWU’s School of Education graduates are licensed to teach across the country.

The 2001 ruling did not stop many Ontario and British Columbia law groups from claiming TWU’s rules would injure prospective LGBTQ applicants. Of the 22 other law schools operated by public universities in Canada, three are in British Columbia, where Trinity Western is located.

One Canadian legal scholar said the June 15 decision might allow the school to open if it makes its covenant optional.

“The majority makes it sound as if the TWU program should be accredited by the law societies if they were to remove the covenant, particularly the element that has the effect of excluding gay/lesbian students,” said Richard Moon, a law professor at the University of Windsor in Ontario specializing in freedom of conscience and religion.

Moon suggested the court majority may have supported the law societies because of the justices’ own experiences entering the legal profession decades earlier. There were fewer law schools then, he said, and admission to law school was more of a requirement to enter the legal profession.

“Unfortunately, TWU didn’t make the argument that admission to law school is not the same gateway or barrier that there once was,” Moon said. Another missed argument, he said, was whether “it’s legitimate for law societies to be concerned about the exclusion of gay and lesbian students (without being) equally concerned about exclusion of evangelical Christians.”

Critics of the ruling note that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms contains a section guaranteeing “freedom of conscience and religion,” which previously was seen as protecting sectarian groups’ free exercise rights. But supporters note that same-sex marriage became legal in Canada in 2005, thereby helping protect LGBTQ persons against discrimination.

Barry W. Bussey, director of legal affairs for the Canadian Council of Christian Charities, said the majority’s emphasis on unwritten “charter values” transcends the charter’s written guarantees.

“It now depends on the idiosyncrasies of the judicial mind,” Bussey said. Referring to the 2001 case, he added, “What they’ve done is ignored it. When it comes to precedent, the Canadian court feels it’s no longer bound by that.”


Mark A. Kellner is a freelance journalist in Salt Lake City, where he previously served as an enterprise reporter at the Deseret News.

Courtesy: Religion News Service

Photo courtesy: ©

Publication date: June 22, 2018

Christian bakery owner Jack Phillips, who recently won his case before the Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, says his business has been busier than ever after his court victory.

Phillips, who owns speciality bakery Masterpiece Cakeshop, drew national attention when he refused to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding, citing his religious beliefs. Although losing his case in the lower courts, Phillips appealed his case all the way to the Supreme Court which ruled in his favor earlier this month.

Phillips said he has received an outpouring of support as the case went before the Supreme Court and that his business has increased, although he initially lost 40 percent of his business.

"We have had so many people coming by to support us as the case has gone on, and there has been an outpouring of love and support since the decision came down. The state's targeting of my beliefs cost me 40 percent of my business and forced me from 10 employees down to four. But we're so happy to be busy doing what we do best at our shop," Phillips told The Christian Post in an email.

“We're also eager to start designing custom wedding cakes again," he added. "A cake is a canvas, and I'm really looking forward to creating beautiful art that celebrates such a special day."

Nearly 400 supporters gathered outside Masterpiece Cakeshop following the Supreme Court victory. They chanted “Jack is back” and “Love free speech!” Their were also many LGBT protesters and activists present. Phillips offered them cookies and said “Thanks for coming. Come back anytime.”

"Since we won, we've seen far more support than negativity,” the soft-spoken baker and cake designer continued. “Even people who don't believe what I do about marriage, including many who identify as LGBT, have been so encouraging. Tolerance is a two-way street. If we want freedom for ourselves, we have to extend it to those with whom we disagree. Most people get that.”


Photo courtesy: Facebook/We Stand With Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop Colorado Bakery

Publication date: June 22, 2018

Two soccer players from opposing teams playing in the 2018 World Cup in Russia joined on the field on Monday after a game to pray together.

Belgium player Romelu Lukaku, a Roman Catholic, and Panama player Fidel Escobar, an evangelical Christian, knelt on the field after the match between the two countries. Belgium won 3-0.

"Lukaku and Fidel Escobar kneeling and praying at the final whistle was a beautiful moment for many. Both players may represent different religions and had differing results, yet they found peace in what they were doing," wrote Oscar Flex - Kibet, a digital content creator, on Twitter.

"Love for the game, God above all," he added.

The image of the two soccer players praying after the game was widely circulated on social media. Many called it the “image of the day,”according to reports.

Lukaku is the star of the Manchester United English Premier League. He scored two of Monday’s winning goals. He has been vocal about his faith, using his Instagram account to talk about it.

In one post from September 2017, Lukaku posted a photo of himself praying on the field after his team qualified for the World Cup.

Earlier in 2017, British tabloid newspapers said Lukaku was Muslim, but Lukaku had publically talked about his Christian faith in years before. In 2016, he was featured in a Christian Today article, “Five Christian superstars of Euro 2016” and in 2014, he was quoted in The Sun as posting on his Instagram: “Belief has always been important to me. Live from Lourdes. God is great.”


Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/Master1305

Publication date: June 22, 2018