BC Court of Appeal Upholds Religious Liberty in TWU Case

01 November 2016

OTTAWA – A five judge panel of the BC Court of Appeal unanimously ruled today in favour of Trinity Western University (TWU) in its legal challenge against the Law Society of British Columbia (LSBC).

Bruce Clemenger, President of The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, stated today, “The EFC is delighted that the religious liberties of all Canadians have been upheld, including evangelical Christians. Evangelicals contribute to all aspects of Canadian society, including law. This judgment is a strong affirmation of Canada’s religious diversity and the right of everyone to contribute to Canadian society without compromising their religious beliefs.” 

The Court Decision:

The court found that this was a case about state neutrality and pluralism. It emphasized that the effect of refusing to accredit future TWU law school graduates would be a “severe” impact on the freedom of religion of TWU students and professors and that “members of that community are entitled to establish a space in which to exercise their religious freedom.”

The court held that the Charter exists to prevent majoritarian views from being imposed upon religious minorities absent concrete “evidence of actual harm”, even if the democratic majority believes that it is acting in the public interest and with altruistic motives. The court noted that “disagreement and discomfort with the views of others is unavoidable in a free and democratic society.”

Quotes from the Court’s Decision:

[190] The TWU community has a right to hold and act on its beliefs, absent evidence of actual harm. To do so is an expression of its right to freedom of religion. The Law Society’s decision not to approve TWU’s faculty of law denies these evangelical Christians the ability to exercise fundamental religious and associative rights which would otherwise be assured to them under s. 2 of the Charter.

[193] A society that does not admit of and accommodate differences cannot be a free and democratic society — one in which its citizens are free to think, to disagree, to debate and to challenge the accepted view without fear of reprisal. This case demonstrates that a well-intentioned majority acting in the name of tolerance and liberalism, can, if unchecked, impose its views on the minority in a manner that is in itself intolerant and illiberal.

The EFC co-intervened on TWU’s behalf with Christian Higher Education Canada (CHEC). Also intervening on behalf of TWU were the Association for Reformed Political Action Canada, the Canadian Council of Christian Charities, Christian Legal Fellowship, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Vancouver, the Catholic Civil Rights League, the Faith Freedom Alliance, and the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Canada.

For additional resources on the joint intervention of the EFC and CHEC in TWU v. LSBC(including our factum), visit


For additional information or an interview, please contact:

Rick Hiemstra, Director, Research and Media Relations
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
613-233-9868 x332 
[email protected]