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Is Canada Moving Towards or Away from Religious Inclusivity in the Public Sphere?

Religion in the Public Square in Canada Conference, Rome, Italy, May 2010 (hosted by the Canadian Embassy, Vatican See)

28 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2010 Last revised: 18 Mar 2015

Iain T. Benson

University of Notre Dame Australia; University of the Free State - Faculty of Law, Department of Public Law

Date Written: May 18, 2010

Abstract

In recent years, the Canadian judiciary has played an increasingly prominent role in determining the place of religion in the public sphere. Some of their decisions have led to greater religious inclusivity, while some have led to an increasing marginalization of religious communities. This paper examines the impact of some of these decisions on the public dimension of religious life. It considers the role of freedom of religion, equality, faith and belief in the lives of both religious and nonreligious citizens. It argues that the role of law is not to promote a single, monolithic conception of citizenship, but instead to foster a diverse and tolerant multicultural society that protects the sanctity of its citizens’ beliefs. Consequently, the public sphere may be best understood as a realm of competing belief systems, all of which must be accorded proper respect.

Keywords: Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 2(a) Freedom of Conscience and Religion, Separation of Church and State, Connie Heintz v. Christian Horizons, Ontario v. Brockie, Freedom to Believe, Atheistic Theocracy, Sexual Orientation, definition of secularism, definition of secular

JEL Classification: K12, K39, Z12

Suggested Citation

Benson, Iain T., Is Canada Moving Towards or Away from Religious Inclusivity in the Public Sphere? (May 18, 2010). Religion in the Public Square in Canada Conference, Rome, Italy, May 2010 (hosted by the Canadian Embassy, Vatican See). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1654365 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1654365

Iain Benson (Contact Author)

University of Notre Dame Australia ( email )

29 Shepard Street
Chippendale, Sydney 2008
Australia

University of the Free State - Faculty of Law, Department of Public Law ( email )

Bloemfontein
South Africa

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