A Concordia professor has launched a petition against the Canadian Association of University Teachers for pursuing an “anti-religious ideology.” Since 2009 CAUT has investigated three religious universities and has concluded that all of them disrespect core principles of academic freedom.
“What we have here is an academic union ganging up on these smaller Christian universities and I thought it was high time that people from the public universities take a stand,” Concordia theology professor, Paul Allen who started the petition, told the National Post. So far the petition has 140 signatures from professors at several public universities. “There’s good reason to be vigilant about academic freedom. But what CAUT has done is misguided. The notion one can’t do serious intellectual work in a religious institution is naive,” Allen said.
The source of tension lies in statements of faith that require faculty adhere to Christian principles, such as that Jesus Christ is the one true God. So far the professor’s union has issued reports on Trinity Western University, Canadian Mennonite University and Crandall University. A fourth school, Redeemer University College, is slated for a similar report.
James Turk, CAUT’s executive director defended the investigations in the Post. “The majority of religious schools do not have a faith test for employment. An institution that includes or excludes teachers on basis of a faith test is antithetical to what a university is supposed to be. We’d be just as concerned if a secular university made its teachers sign an ideological statement,” he said.