On Christian law schools

A planned Canadian law school at Trinity Western University has come under fire for a curious understatement of the Bible’s views on homosexuality. In what I understand to be a potential violation of Canadian human rights law, Trinity Western proposes to maintain, at Canada’s very first Christian law school, a behavior code that forbids students from, among other things, “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of between a man and a woman.

It shouldn’t be surprising that America already has a few Christian-themed law schools, the most famous of which probably is Regent University. This rigorous 3-year program, founded to spread “Christian leadership” throughout America, has historically woefully underperformed on bar passage and stunningly merely broke even with the Virginia state average last year. Some lures of attending Regent include a robust alumni network of Grand Inquisitors for the Grand Ole Party.

And Regent is actually one of the best Christian law schools around. California’s best Christian law school achieved a bar passage rate of 38.8% over the last five years, and all of the unaccredited Christian schools mentioned in that study have bar passage rates ranging from 0% to the 38.8% figure. The Christian law schools that aren’t busy cooking the books instead just come right out and charge you first-tier rates for last-tier lifetime income returns and last-tier job placement – lucky for all the gay students who can’t go to Liberty University.

I think that the main goal of law schools, which is to teach its students the law in a way that makes them fit to represent and advise other people, is fundamentally at odds with Christianity for a number of reasons. One of them is that Christianity has never had a good relationship with education in America. From Scopes to Dover, Christians have opposed honest, accurate science education where it contradicts their scriptures. Likewise with history, especially where it concerns the principles of religious liberty and secular democracy.

I can’t imagine how the law could be any different, especially since Christianity’s aggression upon American education is so entwined with the spectacular legal battles that it has been losing almost since the beginning. How could a Christian Constitutional law professor accurately describe the last fifty years of 1st Amendment jurisprudence without completely dispiriting any aspiring young Christian lawyer who envisions the Christian America promised him by Liberty University or Ave Maria? How is a Christian law school student supposed to get a good understanding of the theories of punishment when they’ve been told all their lives that all wrong-doing is pre-forgiven, that right and wrong don’t matter if you apologize to the right judge?

The fact is that the main problem is that religious was our first attempt at law as much as it was our first attempt at philosophy, and the law has moved on. Society has decided that it is no longer in our best interest to forbid homosexuals from full participation in the economy. Society has decided that apology does not waive crimes. We’ve taken the power of sanctuary from the Church and given it to embassies. We no longer rally nations by papal bull, we do it by international covenant. Churches can no longer freely invalidate marriages or contracts. We don’t permit the Levitical sale of slaves. We now treat the very things God ordered the Israelites to do as war crimes.

A Christian law school is an Apothecary Medical School, it is an Astrological Astronomy School, it is a British government degree granted by druids. Christianity is not just a freewheeling worldview that can be easily imposed upon any body of knowledge – Christianity and its Jewish predecessor texts are themselves a legal theory. Christianity is a theory of justice which says that a third party can forgive disputes between two others on his own behalf. Christianity is a legal theory which says that the law was frozen in place towards the end of the 1st century AD and that anything further is a falling-away. Christianity is a legal theory which says that there are no sovereigns on Earth, only ethereal ones.

I don’t mean to say that I think that Christian law schools teach Old Testament law. What I think is that Christian law schools stem from an intellectual milieu which holds that everything different about American law (or Canadian law) and Biblical law is an aberration. This is the problem. This is why you will never get good results from such a university.

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3 Responses to “On Christian law schools”

  1. Mike Says:

    And yet these ‘schools’ are allowed to be accredited. That’s probably the real problem – letting someone set up an ‘educational entity’ (I can’t properly call them a real university) that attempts to shoehorn religious belief onto some area where it has no business being. A ‘Christian law school’ belongs in the same ‘why-do-they-bother’ category as a ‘Muslim medical school’ or ‘Jewish engineering school’. Although those last two examples would probably die a quick death while ‘Christian (fill in the blank) schools’ proliferate.

    No doubt Christian schools are allowed to set out their shingle because the people who approve such nonsense are themselves vaguely affiliated with the faith, and see these things as a good idea. Simply amazing.

  2. Nathan Kerr Says:

    In 2007, Liberty School of Law announced an 89% Virginia Bar Exam passage rate from its first graduating class. The bar passage rate exceeded the state average of 72%. In 2008, the School of Law announced a 94.4% first time passage rate on the Virginia Bar Exam, second only to the University of Virginia. In 2011, the School of Law achieved a 100% passage rate on the Virginia Bar Exam for the February exam.

    Sounds pretty credible to me. Maybe you should not be so bigoted, intolerant, and close minded with those that are of faith.

    • skepticatlaw Says:

      There are no factual errors in the post. Maybe you, apparently a Liberty student, should gain the toughness of character required not to instinctively treat all honest criticism as “bigotry” or “intolerance.” I’m looking at your blog and I mean, what’s more “close minded” than taking something you said, putting it in quotation marks, and then posting it? Your mind is so closed that you actually treat your own platitudes as holy writ. Humility must be one of those Christian virtues you put on the back-burner.

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