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ISBN: 9781552213643

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Freedom of Conscience and Religion

When the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was enacted in 1982, the first of its fundamental freedoms seemed less significant and less interesting than many of its other rights. However, the Salman Rushdie affair, the 9/11 attacks, and later the publication of the “Danish Cartoons” helped to move religion or religious difference to the forefront of public consciousness. These events seemed to confirm that religion, or at least particular religions, represented a threat to the values of liberal-democratic society. Religious freedom issues that may have been minor and easily resolved “on the ground” were increasingly seen through this lens of intractable conflict, and as opening the door to a broader threat to Western democracy.

In Canada, anxiety about religion has been far less acute than in Europe or in the United States. Nevertheless, concern about the character of religion has shaped the public reaction to religious diversity and freedom. This has been most powerfully so in Quebec where, as in Europe, national identity remains a concern, and the political role of the Catholic church in the recent past has caused many to be wary of the visibility of religion in the public sphere.

The book reviews the basic history of religious freedom in Canada; looks at state support for religion, including the place of religious practices and symbols in public institutions and the role of religious values in public decision making; the restriction or accommodation of religious practices by state action; religious restriction in particular contexts; state support for religious schools; freedom of religion in the context of the family, and in particular, the parent-child relationship; and freedom of conscience component of section 2(a).


Richard Moon

Richard Moon is a professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Windsor. He has written extensively about freedom of expression and freedom of religion, publishing more than fifty articles and book chapters in Canada and abroad. He is also the author of The Constitutional Protection of Freedom of Expression (2000), editor of Law and Religious Pluralism in Canada (2008), and a contributing editor of Canadian Constitutional Law (2010).

Chapter Title Abstract Contributors Pages Year Price


Overview of the topics covered in the book. 8 $0.80


Historical and philosophical review of religious tolerance and freedom in Canada leading to recognition of religious freedom under the Charter and incorporating the concept of state neutrality. 24 $2.40


Discussion of religious practices in schools, other civic forums and legislatures; secularism and neutrality; religious symbols and cultural history; the US establishment clause; the European … 41 $4.10


Review of 11 court decisions interpreting the freedom of religion clause of the Charter, plus a discussion of state regulation of religiously motivated discrimination; the Quebec Charter of … 73 $7.30


Discussion of religious organizations in the context of their exemption from human rights codes, court enforcement of private law arrangements, and the ability of individuals to join, remain, or leave. 22 $2.20


Discussion of the funding and regulation of religious schools and separate or denominational schools. 16 $1.60


Discussion of issues arising in the context of parents making religiously based decisions concerning their children. 9 $0.90


Discussion of the scope of freedom of conscience as distinguished from freedom of religion. 13 $1.30


Summary of the courts’ approach to religious neutrality. 3 $0.30