According to the Langley Advance, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), the Canadian version of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), has issued a report stating that Christian universities fail to provide faculty members with academic freedom. Specifically the report places
The report on
In 2006, the Canadian Association of University Teachers [CAUT] adopted “Procedures in Academic Freedom Cases Involving Allegations of Requirement of an Ideological or Faith Test as a Condition of Employment” [Appendix A]. The CAUT considered that academic freedom is violated at universities in
Indeed, Trinity’s statement of faith says that the university “openly espouses a unifying philosophical framework to which all faculty and staff are committed without reservation.” The statement declares that university employees believe in a triune God who created the world and offers salvation through the death of Jesus Christ. CAUT officials say such a statement of faith is equivalent to an ideological litmus test that deprives faculty members of academic freedom. The Advance quotes James Turk, executive director of CAUT, saying, “A university is meant as a place to explore ideas, not to create disciples of Christ.”
Actually, Mr. Turk, the university was originally a place to create disciples of Christ. Queen’s University, the first degree-granting institution in
It is strange that the CAUT would take such a strong stance against religious schools when its American counterpart the AAUP has clearly acknowledged the academic freedom of such schools in its 1915 Declaration of Principles:
If a church or religious denomination establishes a college to be governed by a board of trustees, with the express understanding that the college will be used as an instrument of propaganda in the interests of the religious faith professed by the church or denomination creating it, the trustees have a right to demand that everything be subordinated to that end.
Again, in its 1940 Statement of Principles, the AAUP declared:
Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject. Limitations of academic freedom because of religious or other aims of the institution should be clearly stated in writing at the time of the appointment.
Trinity has made its mission unambiguous, and the statement of faith is clearly a criterion for employment. Many schools make “demonstrated commitment to diversity” a must for job candidates, and leaders of the campus sustainability movement are currently urging colleges to “insist that the selection process for new campus leaders include a climate action ‘litmus test.’” Requiring commitments to ideologies such as diversity and climate action is not protected by the AAUP provisions for religious aims, yet neither the AAUP nor the CAUT believe it poses a threat to academic freedom.
Many colleges and universities profess a commitment to academic freedom but at the same time espouse social and political doctrines that subvert it. Trinity Western U takes a stand for academic freedom in a thoughtful statement that rightly places truth-seeking as the goal of academic freedom. The CAUT report reproduces it in its entirety, and so do I:
On the other hand, Trinity Western University rejects as incompatible with human nature and revelational theism a definition of academic freedom which arbitrarily and exclusively requires pluralism without commitment, denies the existence of any fixed points of reference, maximizes the quest for truth to the extent of assuming it is never knowable, and implies an absolute freedom from moral and religious responsibility to its community.
Rather, for itself,
The authors of the report remark that “Although there are in
The Advance quotes TWU President Jonathan Raymond, who says that the attack is a cheap attempt to discredit the academically serious Christian university. He said, “There is no topic under the sun that can't be raised. We assume faculty will have their thinking informed by their Christian faith, but we don't influence it. They can raise all perspectives but we expect they'll also raise the Christian perspective.” President Raymond also wrote a letter officially responding to the CAUT report welcoming “normal academic dialogue” and noting that
Christian colleges in general are worried by the clash between CAUT and TWU. Al Hiebert, executive director of Christian Higher Education Canada, an umbrella group for Christian universities and colleges, calls the investigative report “sinister” and a form of harassment. “It's putting the education of those schools and the research of their faculty under the heading of, ‘We don't need to take them seriously.’”
Will the Christian universities in
We at NAS are considering an investigation to see whether we should put the CAUT on our list of organizations that misappropriate the notion of academic freedom and endanger true freedom of inquiry.