Making Registered Charitable Status of Religious Organizations Subject to 'Charter Values'
Bussey, B. W. (2020). The status of religion and the public benefit in charity law. London, UK: Anthem Press.
75 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2020
Date Written: February 20, 2020
The Supreme Court of Canada has held that government actors must ensure that their decision making process considers ‘Charter values.’ This has led to a growing opinion, within the legal community, that Canada Revenue Agency’s decisions on the registered charitable status of religious organizations ought to ensure such charities are compliant (in belief and action) with ‘Charter values’ such as equality and ‘reproductive rights’. In some circles, ‘Charter values’ are seen as a necessary part of the evolving definition of ‘public benefit.’ This chapter will explore that perspective in the context of current law and liberal democratic philosophy. It will argue that fundamental human life issues (FHLI) such as equality of all, definition of marriage and the value of human life, have been the subject of religious thought and teaching for millennia, and such beliefs have inspired the legal, political and philosophical traditions of liberal democracies. FHLI are part and parcel of the religious enterprise that seeks to understand what it means to be human. Denying public benefit recognition to charities that advance religion merely because they have unpopular beliefs or practices will not only have a negative effect on civic engagement, it will also have a negative philosophical impact on our traditional and scientific understanding of human nature. Liberal democracy demands that the state recognize it has no role in denying the complexity of religious identity’s framing of fundamental human life issues upon which reasonable people may disagree.
Keywords: Advancement of Religion, Religious Freedom, Charter Values, Supreme Court of Canada, Charity Law
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