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CAUT Bulletin Archives

November 2010

Canadian Mennonite U. Added to Faith Test List

Founders Hall at Canadian Mennonite University [File Photo]
Founders Hall at Canadian Mennonite University [File Photo]
Canadian Mennonite Univer­sity in Winnipeg has been added to CAUT’s list of universities and colleges that have a faith or ideological test as a condition of employment.

The action follows a detailed inquiry by an ad hoc investigatory committee created in 2008 under CAUT’s Procedures in Academic Freedom Cases Involving Allegations of Requirements of an Ideological or Faith Test as a Condition of Employment.

The investigation undertaken by professors John Baker of the University of Calgary and Mark Gabbert of the University of Manitoba found CMU “is denying academic freedom to its academic staff by requiring a statement of faith — implicitly or explicitly — as a condition of initial and/or continuing employment.”

The committee reported in its findings that “there was no question of a narrow religious fundamentalism, and there appeared to be a sincere respect for academic work and sensitivity to the difficult balancing that the administrators thought had to go on between affirming the institution’s religious mission and protecting the integrity of academic work.”

But the report goes on to note: “Despite this, we concluded that … the (CMU) Personnel Policy Handbook … should be viewed as giving substance to the conclusion that, however open the environment might be, there is a commitment to enforcing the operative mission statements as a guarantee that faculty at CMU will maintain a certain faith inspired perspective. The ‘Conflict and Changing Positions’ policy gives the CMU board ample grounds for enforcing such commitment.”

The report also recommended that CAUT formulate a policy statement to deal with protecting academic freedom for instances where an institution that does guarantee academic freedom has, or plans to have, joint academic programs or other academic relations with an institution that does not.