CBC's characterization of Trinity Western University as "fundamentalist"

30 June 2016

To the CBC Ombudsman,

In the initial CBC article by Blair Rhodes, (June 29, 2016 2:56 PM version) “Trinity Western University appeal headed for Supreme Court: Fundamentalist Christian law school has gone to court in 3 provinces to get accreditation,” Trinity Western University and its proposed law school were described as “fundamentalist.” This characterization was wrong and exposed TWU and the evangelical community it serves to contempt. 

Trinity Western University, an affiliate of The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (an organization that gathers Canada’s 4 million+ Evangelicals), consciously describes itself as evangelical. Evangelicalism itself is a reaction to the fundamentalism that arose out of the modernist controversies of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. To describe a religious group using a term that they self-consciously reject is sloppy and inaccurate. The public meaning of fundamentalist has evolved since the early twentieth century and typically refers to those who employ violence to impose their religious beliefs. To label Trinity Western or any Canadian Evangelicals as fundamentalist, knowing this public meaning, marginalizes and demeans them, and engenders fear and contempt of Evangelicals in their fellow Canadians.

We appreciate that the CBC corrected this mischaracterization in its 8:46 PM version of the story, but we are concerned that damage has already been done. 

We ask the CBC to be accurate in its descriptions of religious minorities in Canada and to be conscious of how this kind of inaccuracy marginalizes and demeans the millions of Canadians that call themselves evangelical Christians. 

We are always available to help you sort out any questions you have about the meanings of religious terms. We are happy to help you avoid such damaging mistakes in the future.


Rick Hiemstra, Director of Media Relations
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada