Trinity Western University in Langley is one step closer to opening the first faith-based law school in the country, following approval by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, the national co-ordinating body for 14 provincial and territorial law societies that governs over 100,000 lawyers and 4,000 Quebec notaries.
The university made the announcement Monday, Dec. 16.
In his written statement, TWU President Bob Kuhn referred to the controversy that erupted earlier this year when over 1,000 students at eight Canadian law schools signed letters opposing the proposed TWU law school, arguing the the university’s student handbook discriminates against gays, bisexuals and transgendered people.
The handbook contained a clause that required TWU students to abstain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”
A student who breaks the pledge could be expelled.
“We recognize that there has been considerable debate with respect to the fact that TWU is a faith-based university,” Kuhn said.
“Now that the Federation has approved the program, we can move on from that debate and build an excellent law school to serve the Canadian public.”
In October, TWU issued a written statement that said gay and lesbian students are welcome to attend the university.
“We do not ask about a prospective student’s sexual orientation, and many gay and lesbian students have graduated from our university,” the statement read.
“Prospective students who do not agree with our religious views are welcome to apply to another university … “
The designs for the new School of Law Building include a 14,250 square-foot law library and 200-seat lecture theatre.
Current plans call for 60 first-year law students to begin studies in 2016.
The TWU School of Law will offer unique courses in charities/not-for-profit law and entrepreneurial law.
The school still requires approval from the provincial ministry of Advanced Education, which has yet to rule on the application for accreditation made in 2012.
In the United States, roughly a quarter of the country’s 200 law faculties are religious-affiliated law schools.