CAUT to change investigations into religious schools

Targeted schools feel investigations were unnecessary to begin with

After completing lengthy investigations into three religious universities and their hiring practices, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has said it will stop sending teams of investigators to schools it suspects require a faith test as part of their conditions of employment, reported the National Post.

The CAUT was criticized for deploying elaborate inquiries devoted to uncovering the existence of faith tests, when the information was readily available publicly through websites and university calendars.

Investigations were conducted into Trinity Western University, Crandall University, and the Canadian Mennonite University. Each CAUT report concluded that the schools required statements of faith from faculty members as an employment requirement. The organization also recently launched an inquiry into Redeemer University College in Ontario.

“In hindsight we started out using our elaborate investigative procedures because we wanted to be fair to the institutions,” CAUT executive director James Turk says. “We didn’t want to say the schools were doing something inappropriate without checking it out carefully.”

However, Justin Cooper, president of Christian Higher Education Canada, which oversees 33 private Christian universities and colleges in Canada, felt that the investigations have made some parents and donors question whether or not there was cause for concern: “Essentially what they were investigating was something that was public knowledge and then inferred conclusions that these faith statements were stifling the academic atmosphere, without ever conducting an empirical review. They have reached a damaging conclusion that discredits our schools.”

While they may no longer be sending a team of investigators, Turk told the National Post CAUT will still continue to keep an eye on schools that require statements of faith from their faculty. “An institution that includes or excludes teachers on the basis of a faith test is antithetical to what a university is supposed to be,” he said. “We’d be just as concerned if a secular university made its teachers sign an ideological statement.”

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.