Iain T. Benson
University of the Free State - Faculty of Law, Department of Constitutional Law and Philosophy of Law; Miller Thomson LLP, Canada (2009-2013)
RECOGNIZING RELIGION IN A SECULAR SOCIETY, p. 83, Douglas Farrow ed., McGill Queens Press, 2004
In Chamberlain v. Surrey School District, the Canadian Courts held that the “secular” and public sphere cannot be exclusive of religion and must allow for consciences animated by religious conviction. In doing so, however, the Court, without examining the term at all, erroneously stated that Canada is based on the principles of secularism. This paper examines whether or not Canada is truly based on secularist principles. It traces the beginnings of the doctrine of secularism, from George Jacob Holyoake’s original views on the matter to the modern form of secular fundamentalism. It argues that the endorsement of secularism, a fundamentally anti-religious doctrine, as a Canadian constitutional principle, is in stark contradiction to the Court’s religion-inclusive use of the word “secular” and that secularism historically understood should not be embraced as consistent with constitutional principles. The arguments advanced are said to apply in other countries as well.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 16
Keywords: Canadian Constitutional Law, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 2(A) Freedom of Conscience and Religion, Chamberlain v. Surrey School District, Secularism, Accommodation of Religious Practice, Church and State, Modus Vivendi, Definition of Secularism, Definition of Secular
JEL Classification: K12, K39, Z12Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: August 7, 2010
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