Funding religious education from the public purse -

Funding religious education from the public purse

Is CAUT’s crusade against religious universities really about its opposition to private universities?


As the Canadian Association of University Teacher (CAUT) casts its web wider in its investigation of hiring practices at religious universities, new issues are being raised about the role of these types of institutions in Canada’s post-secondary community. According to Nick Martin, education reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, the question now is: “Should a university that restricts the hiring of faculty according to religious beliefs be receiving the same level of scarce public operating money as public colleges and universities?”

Martin’s article published late last week discusses CAUT’s latest probe into hiring practices, which puts the focus on Canadian Mennonite University (CMU). In October 2009, CAUT released the results of its first investigation that looked at whether Trinity Western University (TWU) was acting appropriately by requiring its professors to sign a “statement of faith.” CAUT—a union of sorts, representing faculty associations across the county, that has fought sometimes controversial fights over academic freedom since 1951—placed TWU on its blacklist of universities that violate academic freedom, effectively calling into question the school’s dedication to the very heart of what it is to be a university.

While no evidence has yet been published suggesting that CMU has a similar “faith test,” CMU president Gerald Gerbrandt told the Free Press that the province of Manitoba gave the school a mandate “to be more restrictive” by only hiring “people who are clearly Christian, that is clearly the expectation,” he said.

This practice will surely attract the disapproval of CAUT, which considers universities to have violated academic freedom if they “seek to ensure an ideologically or religiously homogeneous academic staff,” which TWU and CMU are clearly doing. CAUT is currently investigating CMU.

This is where CAUT’s argument takes a confusing turn. Martin reports that CAUT is demanding that governments only fund public institutions. At the conclusion of its TWU investigation, CAUT censured the university by placing it on its blacklist of institutions that violate academic freedom—which amounts to a virtual slap on the hand, if you will—and said no further action was planned. So by calling into question whether these schools should be funded with public dollars, CAUT is upping the stakes in its battle against religious schools.

CMU enjoys existing in a gray area by claiming to be part private part public. Interestingly, when CMU became a member of the Association of University and Colleges of Canada—which acts as an unofficial accreditation body in Canada—it claimed to be both private (it is a federation of three private colleges) and public in that it sees itself “as serving the province of Manitoba.”

CAUT executive director James Turk told the Free Press that funding for private universities is funding denied to public schools. “Canada really has no need for private institutions. They should not be receiving public money,” Turk said.

What is confusing about Turk’s comments is that there is no logical connection between being a private institution and hiring professors according to their beliefs. By going after private religious universities (most of which are non-profit, by the way) in this way, CAUT appears to be waging a broader war against these schools specifically, rather than being solely concerned about the issue of how faculty hiring affects academic freedom.

Back in January when Maclean’s published an article about TWU, the university’s president Jonathan Raymond questioned why CAUT seemed to be specifically targeting Christian universities when there have been no specific complaints from from faculty of academic freedom violations. Raymond’s question implies what Turk’s above comments seem to confirm: that CAUT’s campaign against hiring practices at religious universities is secondary to the association’s opposition to this type of institution, that its “faith test” investigations are only one part of a broader battle. Whether CAUT’s battle is against the ideology of religious universities or against private universities remains to be seen.


Funding religious education from the public purse

  1. Public funds should in no way, shape or form ever be used for anything even remotely affiliated with religion, period. It’s rather depressing knowing this is even an issue in this day and age – some 150 years after the publication of the Origin of Species.

  2. Have you ever thought that the Origin of Species is a religious view itself? In a secular society, money goes to everyone.

  3. Every body has a set of beliefs; explicit or implicit. It is naive – certainly not well informed – to suggest that one particular community (faith based or not) should be somehow disqualified from the larger community based on its beliefs. This article suggests that Turk subscribes to a particular ‘dogma’ and I would assume the members of his CAUT are expected to subscribe to the same dogma. Then this group (or the leaders thereof) point fingers at others who hold their own set of beliefs. Seems hypocritical to me…

  4. “Secular fundamentalism is most to be feared,” commented U of S political scientist Jene Porter in 2002 when the question was raised in that university’s committee charged by its president with advising whether or not that university should accept a faith-based college as an affiliate college.

    If Canada is a pluralist liberal democracy, then faith-based universities should be as accepted as the voters and taxpayers who support the public treasury and thereby post-secondary education. This is widely the practice in the wider world outside Canada. To date it seems that none of the faith-based universities that CAUT is blacklisting is “receiving the same level of scarce public operating money as public colleges and universities.”

    There is nothing tolerant or pluralist about CAUT’s blacklisting faith-based universities. Sure, CAUT wants every post-secondary dollar to go to the dominant secular universities. Sure CAUT wants every post-secondary student to attend the dominant secular universities.

    Thankfully, the Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada (AUCC) knows better. They appropriately recognize the issues that CAUT is pressing. But they also know that faith-based universities outside Canada are routinely recognized as academically valid and viable.

    Annually over 17,000 students enroll in Canada’s faith-based post-secondary institutions. Does this fact not demonstrate that the dominant secular universities are not meeting the needs of these students(nor will they)?

    Thankfully, CAUT does not rule post-secondary education in Canada, much as they wish they did. CAUT’s attack on faith-based post-secondary institutions is an ideological move expressive of secular fundamentalism.

  5. Regardless of religious affiliation, private universities and colleges should not receive a cent of public funding. Period. That should include access to infrastructure money, Canada Research Chair funding, tri-council funding and other forms of funding outside of the operating grants.

    Why should the provinces and federal government prop up private schools when the public universities in every province need more funding?

  6. Hey Chris, Christians pay taxes too, that go to supporting public projects. They have every right to get a piece of the pie.
    If you take the time to look at their portion, its nothing compared to the size a public institution gets.

  7. Of course all tax-supported institutions in every domain would love to receive more funding, and so are understandibily jealous of every dollar that goes to someone else.

    On the other hand, private education is a marvelous deal! Some of Canada’s taxpayers are paying for both public education and private education because they believe that private education better meets the goals they prefer.

    But in the views of secular fundamentalists this is not to be allowed. This ideology contradicts the pluralist tolerant mosaic that Canada claims to be. They prefer to insist that their secular ideology be inflicted on all Canadian students. This is as undemocratic as the new “Quebec policy against homophobia” which at public expense taboos all criticism of same-sex behavior. The Quebec NDP want this policy to be adopted by all of Canada.

    This is not liberal tolerance of diversity.

    Secularists have much to learn about the nature of truly pluralist tolerant education.

  8. Chris,

    Your argument is remarkable close minded and frankly idiotic. Private institutions receive a tiny fraction of that given public universities and conduct much valuable research and scholarship. To deny Canada research chairs to professors at private universities would be simple discrimination. This discussion would not even take place in the States where the role of private universities has long been understood.

  9. I hereby announce that I am starting the University of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (henceforth referred to as UFSM). Us Pastafarians have been denied research opportunities long enough!

    Now I’ll be able to fund research that shows a correlation between global warming and the shrinking number of pirates. Soon every Canadian will know that the reason children are taller now is due to the fact the His Noodly Greatness simply doesn’t have enough appendages to touch everyone on the head. Oh, glorious day! Of course, we will hire only the most devoted Pastafarian professors, and shun those that do not share our beliefs (for our Noodly God is the only true God).

    I DEMAND THAT MY RELIGION IS TOLERATED AND RECOGNIZED! Myself, and the 8 million Pastafarians in Canada (give or take, just a rough estimate) pay our taxes as well! No taxation without representation (Amirite? Can I get a “Ramen” from the congregation?)!!!!

    BTW- I will require $24.7 million to build my university, and continuous public funding from its conception.

  10. After the 8 million Pastafarians in Canada build their $24.7 million University of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (only about $3 per devotee) and after it goes broke, I may be able to help you sell your assets — if they have the appropriate location, facilities, technology, libraries, continuing financial support, etc. and the price and academic recognition are right.

    It’s likely a century or more since a provincial or federal government built a faith-based college or university. Secularists tend not to be strong on history.

    Too many secularists seem to have no stronger rationales for their intolerance of religious colleges than creative imagination and ridicule. They also fail to recognize how most Canadian universities were given birth by religious colleges, some of which still operate today fully funded by their daughter universities.


  11. Damn it! You’re right Al. The government doesn’t build them, they just support them. So, I guess I’ll need to secure some private funds to start my university. But as long as my university gets the same public funding as TWU, bankruptcy won’t be a problem.

    May his noodly appendage continue to touch you (but not inappropriately or anything)!

  12. So, Disciple of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, how much public funding does TWU receive annually for its operating costs?

    After you’ve collected the $24.7 million from the 8 million Pastafarians in Canada to build UFSM, how will you ensure that it has TWU’s level of staffing and student enrolment? And how much tuition do you plan to charge students so that bankruptcy won’t be a problem after you’ve paid your operating costs from the level of public funding that TWU receives annually?

  13. Question for you Todd. Are you suggesting that a private accredited Canadian University and the Canadian students attending that University shouldn’t be eligible for any public money?

  14. Well Al, you’ve got a point. It’s strange, but it’s impossible to figure out just how much of a handout I’ll be receiving to start my University. Like Dr. Pettigrew pointed out, I assume it will be between $2 to $5 million annually.

    Hmm… Enrolment… Interesting question. Well, there are 8 million Pastafarians (give or take, mostly take).

    I’ll have to charge tuition to all my budding Pastafarians students. I should probably charge rates that compare well against the real “public” universities which is almost $20,000/year (source: ). That sounds about right. And I’ll be getting money from you (the taxpayer) to fund my University- which states that a giant pasta-based god created the universe and the pirates are his chosen people.

    Basically, I’ll just copy the exactly model the TWU uses to stave off bankruptcy. After all, if Christians can do it, why can’t Pastafarians? Or Muslims for that matter! I read in the paper that visible minorities will be majority in 15 years. You don’t have a problem with paying taxes that go to funding Muslim/Jewish/Hindu/Scientologist/Mormon/Pastafarian universities, right?

  15. Has everyone missed the point that CAUT is also investigating Christian universities that do not receive operational funding? (That’s right, $zero.) Adding funding into the mix is simply a way of bolstering their arsenal against their real target: religious freedom in academia.

    And Disciple of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, you are welcome to start your own university, but I suppose it should meet the same rigorous standards as those of the other private institutions. On that basis, though, you are off to a poor start…

  16. SallyK… Ah, another interesting point. I’ll admit that I don’t really know if you’re being sarcastic or not. Are you talking about the private colleges like Everest College and DeVry “University”? They were in the news recently… What for again…?

    Anyways, I’ll be the first to admit that TWU is able to sustain rigorous academic standards. It’s a great school! No question. Surely, my U of FSM can meet the same rigorous standards as other universities. Bell curve here, gain accreditation there, research standards and policy… Voila! Rigorous university. What makes you think that I can not provide a sound academic perspective through the lens of the ancient Pastafarian religion? I’m going to CRTL+C on TWU and then CRTL+V my religious university somewhere else.

    I’m just saying that it’s time to open the floodgates! Let’s all start universities that have public funding, rather than go with non-denominational research centres. I don’t mind paying taxes for that. So, to be clear, I fully support public funds (my tax dollars) going to private Christian universities. BUT, I expect the same accommodation when I start construction on the University of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Anyone know any architects?

  17. This’ll be short.

    If someone wants to have an education outside of the public education, that is a separate/private education, be it on religious or other foundations, then they have a right to it but along with the right comes the responsibility to pay for it.

    A public system has been set up for the education of our young and that’s the one that is funded. I was raised Roman Catholic and have come to realize that the separate school boards should not have been funded to begin with but political circumstances brought that around. It’s there now, entrenched, but that does not mean that all others have to be given the right to receive funding because of this precedent.

    Should religious schools funded by the ‘public purse’? NO.

  18. How about NO tax dollars go to ANY university? Why should people who don’t go to university (and never have) have to pay for it. Don’t fund universities, don’t allocate the tax $$ to go elsewhere, simply give tax payers back their $$.
    Yes, education will cost more. But, then the ppl who are using it can pay for it. And, if the educational institutions are no longer feeding at the teat of the gov’t and have to be self sufficient I think we will see a drastic improvement in the level of “service” provided.

  19. Salamie: Your statement is plain foolish and has many, many flaws, a few of which I will point out and many more which could be written by a more competent writer.

    1) You are eliminating a huge number of people who would not otherwise be able to pay for an unsubsidized education but would benefit from it.

    2) Education is not a commodity like others, it does not just benfit the individual, but has the potential to increase their ability to benefit the society as a whole, so the society is a stakeholder.

    3) Look at the benefits that come as a result of the research that goes on at universities. Can you really say that you have not, nor ever will benefit as a result? Even more “useless” subjects like pure mathematics (I’m a math student) often eventually aid in the development of more “useful” ideas that benefit the society as a whole.

  20. A few clarifications: TWU doesn’t receive operational funding from the government. That comes from tuition and donations. They received finances for infrastructure (I believe for the first time). And even if this was operational money, good luck running a university on 2.6 million for 7000 students. That’s about $371 a student. A small dent in the $19,470/year tuition students pay, at a school in existence for almost 50 years (i.e. 17,000 previous students have helped pay for the existing infrastructure).
    And I believe that most people who support private Christian universities also support the right of other religious/cultural groups to operate their own schools and receive the same support TWU does.

  21. This is helpful.

    So Todd Pettigrew is jealous of the $2.6M that TWU received from Canada’s Knowledge Infrastructure Program (KIP) to fund 1) improvements to TWU’s computer servers, telecommunication capability and data transfer, 2) expansion of the new science wing that will offer Graduate programs in both chemistry and biology, and 3) library renovation to improve space.

    Todd Pettigrew seems also to begrudge the $25,000 that Trinity Western University’s Laurentian Leadership Centre (LLC) received from Parks Canada to continue the maintenance of the cultural landmark – The John R. Booth Residence. Todd Pettigrew seems also to begrudge the Canada student loans for which TWU student are eligible. Now how intolerant is that? Is this any more generous than Iran is toward its dissidents?

    Secular fundamentalism, including CAUT, seems to be willing to discriminate against TWU faculty and students primarily because they are Christian. The AUCC has no such ideological hang-ups.

    To Disciple of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, will UFSM (cf., TWU) also offer 42 undergraduate majors, ranging from biotechnology, education, nursing, theatre and music, to psychology, communications and Pastafarian studies and 16 graduate degree programs include counseling psychology, business, theology, linguistics, and leadership, and interdisciplinary degrees in English, philosophy and history? Will UFSM also show 48 years of academic successes with AUCC-type academic freedom and 25 years of full membership in AUCC before applying for a $2.6M KIP grant? Will the UFSM faculty show the same or better rate of peer reviewed publications as have TWU faculty? On such academic criteria, I wish you every success.

    My previous offer of assistance to help you sell your UFSM campus when it goes broke stands – with normal commissions, of course.

    Sure, I’ll continue paying my taxes, as will committed Pastafarians, Christians, Muslims and others who thereby benefit from public education at many levels, whether or not they will ever, or have ever personally directly benefited from such.

  22. Hi Al! Glad to see that you’re agreeing with everything I am saying. We’re on the same page! That’s pretty neat. Yeah, that Pettigrew guy is crazy! He is clearly persecuting TWU’s student almost exactly the same way Iran treats their dissidents. Good comparison.

    And actually, I’m planning on offering 43 undergraduate programs. Oh, snap!

    Thanks for the offer to sell off the assets- but I don’t think I’ll need quite it. I can’t find any information on exactly how much money the provincial and federal governments give to religious universities. I can’t make a solid business plan until I find that out. Anyone have any evidence?

  23. Re TWU operational funding from the government,check above “Comment by Lisa on 12 March 2010: A few clarifications: TWU doesn’t receive operational funding from the government. That comes from tuition and donations. They received finances for infrastructure (I believe for the first time).”

    In case you don’t trust Lisa as an adequate source, you might check with some TWU donor letters.

    Is that helpful in constructing your UFSM business plan?

    Glad to hear that we’re “on the same page” here. Let Iran set the parameters for the secularists that think they rule Canada.

  24. Um… do operational funds re infrastructure funds have:
    a. more cents/dollar
    b. less cents/dollar
    c. equal cents/dollar

  25. I have always objected to the public funding of elitist/ private schools.

    Complaint #1: Consider that for every dollar that is provided to a private school, there is one less dollar for the public school.

    Complaint #2: What percentage of the private school’s population is made up of “expensive to teach students”. Not very many – if at all. The public schools pick up these students and provide Learning Assistants and facility alterations to accommodate many of them – wheelchair accessibility, physically handicapped, mentally handicapped, FASD, Learning Disabled, Blind, Hard of Hearing, ESL/EAL, Etc. Etc. When will the private institutions pick up their share of these challenges?

    Complaint #3: Teacher to pupil ratio i.e. class size. Do we need to go there?

    Complaint #4: Although “most” students can enroll in private institutions, there is a filtering process (see complaint #2). Would this be to jack up the numbers for the Frazer Institute’s rating game?

    Complaint #5: Although I am a tax payer, and a Christian, and a Very good teacher with 25 years experience in the public school and three in a Post Secondary Institution , I cannot and will not be hired for many of the learning institutions that my tax dollars support. This is blatant discrimination that the Human Rights Commission won’t even touch. Why ?

    Private numbers
    The amount of publicly funded operating grants which each of the province’s funded private schools received in 2007-2008, the percentage of that school’s operating budget paid for by taxpayers, and that school’s spending per student:
    Academie Islamique du Manitoba $36,877 64.5 $6,350
    Alhijra Islamic School $673,444 96.2 $4,219
    Austin Christian Academy $127,635 70.1 $5,436
    Balmoral Hall $1,426,771 16.4 $20,366
    Beautiful Saviour Lutheran School $227,635 32.9 $7,555
    Calvin Christian School $2,223,675 63.4 $6,617
    Cartwright $40,812 42.3 $12,069
    Children’s House $21,066 9.3 $8,377
    Christ the King $666,324 60.2 $6,475
    Christian Heritage $448,808 59.4 $7,091
    Community Bible Fellowship Christian $145,542 72.6 $5,492
    Dufferin Christian $896,997 71.6 $5,950
    Faith Academy $1,801,897 70.3 $5,439
    Gray Academy $2,328,399 39.2 $11,307
    Green Acres $57,376 90.0 $3,983
    H.B. Community School $80,080 88.3 $4,220
    Holy Cross $1,140,900 94.1 $5,866
    Holy Ghost $862,862 81.6 $4,877
    Immaculate Heart of Mary $833,377 67.6 $5,884
    Immanuel Christian $769,101 65.0 $6,796
    Kola Community School $10,825 30.9 $14,001
    Lakeside Christian $134,134 75.8 $5,283
    Linden Christian $3,316,799 60.9 $6,850
    Mennonite Brethren Collegiate $2,308,282 47.7 $8,376
    Mennonite Collegiate Institute $565,472 31.3 $12,558
    Mennville Christian $136,136 83.7 $4,783
    Montessori Learning Centre $26,731 10.1 $9,266
    Morweena (grades 11 and 12 only) $64,064 99.0 $4,044
    Northern Shield $205,734 29.9 $13,452
    Odanah $98,107 90.8 $3,999
    Oholei Torah School $31,792 51.8 $7,669
    Ohr Hatorah Day School $90,793 23.8 $11,890
    Our Lady of Victory School $380,238 53.8 $7,393
    Pine Creek $42,357 96.5 $4,181
    Red River Valley Junior Academy $292,090 57.7 $6,444
    Silverwinds $66,018 79.3 $4,265
    Springs Christian Academy $2,221,164 52.0 $7,804
    St. Aidan’s $105,187 67.5 $6,776
    St. Alphonsus $835,041 72.5 $5,743
    St. Boniface Diocesan $742,164 59.9 $7,121
    St. Charles Academy $858,223 56.1 $7,518
    St. Edward $746,957 72.5 $5,726
    St. Emile $848,954 69.6 $6,305
    St. Gerard $777,732 84.6 $4,893
    St. Ignatius $886,622 58.6 $7,185
    St. John Brebeuf $963,624 67.9 $6,083
    St. John’s-Ravenscourt $2,794,317 19.2 $18,594
    St. Joseph The Worker $543,642 76.2 $6,795
    St. Mary’s Academy $2,374,545 48.8 $8,246
    St. Maurice $2,439,064 59.4 $6,593
    St. Paul’s High $2,370,479 47.0 $8,657
    Steinbach Christian High $934,199 59.1 $6,818
    The King’s School $1,036,146 68.5 $6,257
    The Laureate $333,234 30.6 $19,486
    University of Winnipeg Collegiate $1,409,297 36.9 $6,745
    Westgate Mennonite $1,218,671 43.9 $9,104
    Westpark $865,619 67.7 $6,000
    Wingham School $76,076 98.9 $4,049
    Winnipeg Mennonite Elementary $1,571,744 50.1 $8,266
    Winnipeg South Academy $90,265 12.9 $6,896
    Source: The department of education’s FRAME (Financial reporting and Accounting in Manitoba Education) report for independent schools 2007-2008. Percentages calculated by WFP using provincial data.
    Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 6, 2010 H5

  26. It is the same thing in the public school system. Christian parents pay school taxes which fund the public school system, largely. Then they pay for their children on top of that, to attend a private Christian school. There is a certain amount of funding per student that attends a Christian school, but it is less than the public schools receive per student ( I think public schools receive double the funding per student) Soooo, the Christians are paying their dues towards the public system while not using it ( a huge chunk of our municipal taxes go to public schools). If we are going to make a big fuss about funding, maybe those of us who send our kids to private schools should be exempted from having to contribute to the education of public school kids? What about all the people who do not even have children who pay that money to the school system? We all pay taxes so that children can be educated. Choice of where to send them should be a part of that….and believe me, the secular institutions push their own set of values down children’s throats.

  27. Lisa’s right. Trinity Western University does not receive any operational funding (that is, year-to-year funding meant to support delivery of programs to students) from the Province of BC, which is responsible for funding post-secondary education. As Al pointed out, the Knowledge Infrastructure Program money was capital money from the Federal government and is probably a never-to-be-repeated offer, and the money from Parks Canada was to maintain a building.

    In the BC K-12 system, we do not have separate school boards or such but there are some “independent” schools that get a varying amount of funding from the provincial government, from zero to 25% or sometimes 50%. Some of these schools, but far from all, are “faith-based” – and that includes other faiths than Christianity (I believe there are Sikh schools, Jewish schools, etc. … no Pastafarian Academies though!)

  28. James Turks (CAUT) apparent statement that “Canada really has no need for private institutions” really flies in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The statement appears to be hegemonic and inconsistent with inclusive Canadian values.

    I’ve been on the faculty of TWU since 1981 and have enjoyed seeing many thousands of Canadian students go through our University. These Canadians, as well as students from other countries, continue to value their Trinity Western University education.

    I am a Christian Professor of Music, completely comfortable with TWU’s statement of faith and TWU’s position and track record on academic freedom. No complaints are on record. I have no difficulty holding to a Christian statement of faith and a statement on academic freedom.

    That’s because our Christian faith and heritage encourages questions, dialogue, respectful and fair arguments and a most vigorous searching for truth. This seeking after truth, in all of our disciplines, within the encouraging context of our faith is one very important part of our Christian academic community at Trinity Western University.

    I believe it’s one of the reasons we consistently get top marks, nationally, in the quality of education that we deliver. Our Christian faith encourages a healthy and inquisitive learning atmosphere. Christ’s teaching style – servant leadership – modeled this.

    The idea of Christian faith and scholarship has been around for centuries. The motto of Freiburg University is” Die Wahrheit wirt euch freimachen” (“The Truth shall make you free” – the words of Jesus Christ!). The motto on the Harvard seal has the phrase “Christo et Ecclesiae” (for Christ and for the Church) surrounding the word “Veritas” (Truth”).

    Great universities, rooted in the Christian faith tradition is well documented by Dr. Charles Malick.

    Consider great thinkers such as Dostoevsky, Bach, C. S. Lewis, Newton and thousands of others, who produced great literary, scientific and artistic work within the context of a deep personal Christian faith.

    Their faith did not just inform their discipline. It provided an essential motivation.

    That is precisely how my Christian faith, my understanding of academic freedom and my academic work interact. There is a healthy synergy with colleagues who share basic assumption of faith. When I tell my students that I come from a Christian perspective, they know where I am coming from.

    On January 11, John G. Stackhouse Jr. wrote in University Affairs; “I want to urge my fellow Canadian scholars to leave a space for the alternative of a community of scholars that can take a number of basic assumptions for granted and go on together to analyze a wide range of important questions. The synergy that comes from such shared intellectual commitments is simply not to be found in the secular university.

    It is an obvious and yet important trade-off: the exciting stimulation of radical plurality versus the reinforcing energy of coherent perspectives. Both are truly educational and both therefore deserve the support of the academy and the Canadian public.”

    I agree.

    It’s also worth mentioning that we at TWU are mandated by law, to be a Christian University. A “Credo” is normal for Christians! CAUT (Canadian Association of University Teachers) is not the law. It’s perhaps more like a union, attempting to impose it’s will on others, perhaps exceeding it’s mandate in doing so.

    What would CAUT want TWU to do? Behave like a secular institution?

    Every professor in the world has presuppositions. These can range from settled positions to the position that truth is unknowable. Relativism on university campuses is not uncommon. Strong hidden agendas have been known to exist in some departments on university campuses. Students sometimes have difficulties knowing where the professor is coming from.

    On January 25 Todd Peddigrew wrote: “A university’s main goal should be the rational pursuit of knowledge and truth. Traditional religion, premised as it is on faith and revelation, is incompatible with that goal.”


    Todd Peddigrew also wrote: “A university based on traditional religion cannot claim to value any of these standards very highly [his earlier mentioned conventions of reasoned scholarship] since religion, as it is normally practiced, discounts evidence and reason in favor of the choice to believe, otherwise called faith.”


    Todd Peddigrew also wrote: “No doubt a few old-fashioned die-hards will hang on for a while yet, maybe centuries yet, but the day will come when TWU’s statement of faith won’t matter a bit. Because no one in their right mind will sign it.”

    Todd Peddigrew could not be more wrong. Christian scholarship does not discount evidence and reason. Evidence and reason are incredibly important to us.

    If, in the future, I am ever asked to sign a standard “Credo” or Christian statement of faith, I will happily sign it – and I AM in my right mind. I have weighed the evidence and have embraced the Christian faith.

    I love Canada and believe that institutions such as TWU and CMU are important and make a great contribution to our national fabric. I shutter to think what education would be like in Canada if it only included the options that James Turk and Todd Peddigrew seem to support, whose written comments I am responding to here.

    Wes Janzen, DMA
    Professor of Music
    Trinity Western University