This Week in Canadian Religion 2018-05-20

by | May 20, 2018


By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Kathryn Chan writes in an article published in the Canadian Bar Review that the “institutional turn” in religious freedom litigation we have seen in Europe and the United States is now apparent in Canada.

The Supreme Court of Canada is scheduled hear three religious freedom cases in the fall, in Wall v Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and two Trinity Western University appeals. But until now, the top court’s approach to institutional religious freedom claims, “is deeply ambiguous,” Chan explains”


“The superintendent of the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District said he was surprised to see a backlash this week to a presentation on inclusion in Middle Arm.

Tony Stack told CBC that Get Real — which was greeted by several parents of students at MSB Regional Academy urging a boycott — is one of several similar presentations that visit schools throughout the year, including ones from the Red Cross and the Office of the Child Youth Advocate.

“It’s just part of our business, it’s our routine business. We have a lot of groups coming in, talking about various issues,” Stack told Here & Now.”


“For the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, the upcoming month of Ramadan will bring fasting, reflection, and charity.

Although Islam is the world’s second-largest religion, Canada’s Muslim population is smaller by comparison; 3.2 per cent of Canada’s population is Muslim.

For those who might not know much about this major holiday, Adil Hasan with the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council (AMPAC) has answered our questions.”


“A recipient of the Order of Canada for his long-standing work bettering race relations is calling on the Ontario PC Party to revoke the membership of a former campaign staffer over a social media comment about fundamentalist Islam.

Garnet Angeconeb, who lives in Sioux Lookout, Ont., laid out his thoughts in a letter to Clifford Bull, the Conservative candidate in the Kiiwetinoong riding, and blasted the “targeted social media comments about a group of people.” He said the comments by former campaign manager Anne Ayotte were “racist” and an example of “hatred.”

Bull’s campaign announced on Tuesday that it “parted ways” with a staff member over comments made on social media. CBC News confirmed that Ayotte had tweeted that “Islamism is not a true religion, it is a fraud being perpetuated on the world,” before saying that “they must be eradicated otherwise they will eradicate us.”

Ayotte has claimed that the tweet was in response to a post by Tarek Fatah,  the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress and outspoken critic of radical Islam. Ayotte’s tweet has since been deleted.

Islamism is a political and cultural movement that dictates the Qur’an should rule all aspects of life. Its followers may or may not be militant.”


OTTAWA – In the face of persistent assaults on religious freedom and its place in the Canada’s public square, the Christian think tank Cardus has established the Cardus Religious Freedom Institute.

Fr. Deacon Andrew Bennett heads the initiative, which is tasked to “re-present” why religious freedom is important, “not only for Christians but for all people.”

“If we can’t live out our faith in the public square, how do we built a truly pluralistic Canada,” said the former Ambassador of Religious Freedom at a pre-launch reception May 8.

Bennett described an “amnesia” about the contributions of faith communities to Canada’s common life. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic deacon said Catholics “are exhibit A.”

“We have bought into the Enlightenment myth that religion is a private matter,” he said. “Our baptism is not a private matter. We are called to live it out.””


“Recently I was awake in the wee hours, and in an attempt to return to peaceful rest I started to recall Christmas carols. Suddenly their magic inspired me with deeper realizations.

I had a faith-filled childhood. I was born into a German Catholic culture and actually spoke German as my first language. The language was part of a rich culture that had survived 148 years in Russia before my grandparents moved their family to Canada in 1912.

As a child you don’t argue with your cultural and religious roots. You accept truth and meaning as a soul-inspiring blessing. You wear the secure, warm and sheltering blanket of Faith.

Language has an inseparable connection to our experience of meaning as it applies to our encounter with reality and in turn, soul. Suddenly I was gathering meaning from those lyrics I heard and sang as a child.”


“Canadians are evenly divided on the question of whether it’s fair for the Liberal government to require that summer job grant recipients sign an attestation respecting LGBT and abortion rights, according to a new poll.

The Angus Reid Institute survey found a clear 50-50 split across the nation. Conservative supporters are more likely to oppose the attestation (68 per cent) compared to those who voted Liberal (41 per cent) or NDP (44 per cent) in the last election.

The Trudeau government unleashed a storm of controversy when it declared that organizations would have to confirm that their “core mandates” respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms on reproductive and LBGT rights in order to be eligible for Canada Summer Job grants.

The poll found that respondents’ views changed according to how they thought the grant money would be spent.

Presented with a hypothetical scenario involving an anti-abortion organization applying for a grant to fund activities unrelated to abortion advocacy, nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of Canadians said they believe the organization should be eligible. Support for funding falls below 37 per cent in a scenario which sees the anti-abortion group spend its grant money on anti-abortion advocacy.

Personal views on abortion

Personal views on abortion are a significant factor in how respondents assess the fairness of the attestation. Those who say abortion should be severely restricted are more likely to see it as unfair (86 per cent) compared to those who hold a pro-choice position (36 per cent).

The Angus Reid Institute survey, conducted between May 2 and 3, 2018, interviewed 1,512 Canadian adults who were members of an online panel. A probabilistic sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.”


Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.

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