Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Living Together with Disagreement: Pluralism, the Secular, and the Fair Treatment of Beliefs in Canada Today

Ronning Centre Forums II, 2010

60 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2010  

Iain T. Benson

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

Abstract

The Canadian approach to a pluralistic society has frequently overlooked the important role religion plays in the lives of its citizens. This paper argues that the current Canadian approach to religious pluralism too often attempts to impose a single, unitary construct of nonreligious social norms. Secularism, as a movement, cannot be neutral with respect to religion – the exclusion of religion from the public square threatens to undermine a key component of many citizens’ identities, their freedom of religion. This paper, building upon earlier work of the author, argues for a definition of “secular” that keeps religion and the state jurisdictionally separated, but that does not preclude cooperation and mutual understanding between these two spheres. Canadian society, in common with all properly liberal and open constitutional societies, must grow to accept and tolerate disagreements about differing beliefs. The ultimate goal of this new approach is to create a modus vivendi, a society in which individual and communal differences are accepted and embraced rather than one in which law and politics are viewed as building towards forced “agreement” or “convergence.” Also discussed is the idea of sexual dogma which the author suggests should be treated like religious dogma in which no one view of sexual conduct or sexual orientation should be accorded official public support in a plural society.

Keywords: Canadian Constitutional Law, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 2(a) Freedom of Conscience and Religion, Religion and the Law, Definition of Secular, Secularism, Chamberlain v. Surrey, B.C. College of Teachers v. Trinity Western, Diversity, Religious Accommodation

JEL Classification: K12, K39, Z12

Suggested Citation

Benson, Iain T., Living Together with Disagreement: Pluralism, the Secular, and the Fair Treatment of Beliefs in Canada Today. Ronning Centre Forums II, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1654405

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

Paper statistics

Downloads
198
Rank
131,927
Abstract Views
1,309