Is Canada Moving Towards or Away from Religious Inclusivity in the Public Sphere?
Iain T. Benson
University of Notre Dame Australia; University of the Free State - Faculty of Law, Department of Public Law
May 18, 2010
Religion in the Public Square in Canada Conference, Rome, Italy, May 2010 (hosted by the Canadian Embassy, Vatican See)
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.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 28
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
Date posted: August 6, 2010 ; Last revised: March 18, 2015