Parts of Canada have state religion supported by tax dollars, promoted by the media.
Our “constitution” and “charter of rights and freedoms” state in the section on Fundamental Freedoms:
Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
• freedom of conscience and religion;
• freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
• freedom of peaceful assembly; and
• freedom of association.
We have freedom of religion
Approximately 70% of Canadians claimed to be Christian although we attend church infrequently. 60% of Canadian Christians (42.5% of all Canadians) are Roman Catholic 33% (22.5% of all Canadians) are main line Protestants. Ontario has approximately the same percentage of Christians but Roman Catholic and Protestant adherents are virtually equal
Islam makes up approx 2% of Canadians (3% of Ontarians) while Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism are approximately 1% (closer to 2% of Ontarians) each. There are 16.5% who profess no religious affiliation.
Although there is bickering and sometimes posturing, we can bicker and posture and worship (or not) pretty well as we choose. We do have freedom of religion.
State supported religion
All Churches/places of worship are usually charities and thus operate with funds for which most of donors receive a tax break. It can thus be argued that all religionb is State funded. However, in my province, one version of Christianity receives direct funding. Because Roman Catholicism was a minority at the time of Confederation, its status was guaranteed by the creation of separate funded schools.
Over time (as evidenced by current population statistics), Roman Catholicism ceased to be the minority and the various Protestant denominations now now make up about 23% of Canadians. Also, during the past half century, Public schools have, due to challenges and court cases, ceased to contain any religion while, also due court cases, the “separate” system has been expanded, built new schools and competes with others actively and vigorously for students.
In Ontario, the state directly funds only one form of religion one religion.
Does the Separate school system espouse religion? This following quote is from the policy statement of a local “separate” school. “The Catholic Secondary School will provide: A continuum for the acquisition of Catholic morals and values.”
This fact has been noted outside Canada. “In 1999, the United Nations Human Rights Committee determined that Canada was in violation of article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, because Ontario’s Ministry of Education discriminates against non-Catholics by continuing to publicly fund separate Catholic schools, but not those of any other religious groups.”
There is state supported religion in Canada (at least the Ontario part).
The Media also supports one religion. How?
Our local newspaper has covered a recent change of Bishops in the local diocese (total population 90,000) extensively. It carried front page stories on the moving on of the sitting Bishop; it carried number of stories of the selection of the new Bishop and a of the new Bishop being welcomed. Actually decent local news deserving of coverage.
The local press also does very good articles on an annual Easter-time celebration of Stations of the Cross. There is nothing wrong with this coverage, but when coverage of other religious events, there appears to be a bias.
For example, during the past year and a half, one of the area’s Protestant denominations has been holding presbytery wide and critical meetings on the future of its congregations in the area. There was a major gathering of 800 church members that had to be moved from church facilities to a local High School gym because of the numbers, but no mention in any of the local media.
Approximately a year ago, the religious head of the United Church of Canada visited one of the areas oldest churches (established in 1787) for a morning and luncheon of reflection. The local press was again silent.
Just this past month, the United Church’s General Council was held in Ottawa. A number of local members attended as credited delegates; one of our local clergy was elected to a three year term on Council. The local press was again silent.
Last week, a group of Protestant churches that were founded by the same minister in 1787 held a special joint service. No local newspaper coverage.
If you get some of your news from CBC or CTV, try to remember when you heard the reporters/hosts contact a non Roman Catholic for a comment on matters of religious importance.
There is in Canada (and definitely in Ontario) a state religion. I’m in the UN camp on this one. In a country that guarantees religious freedom, the state should not (with public money) directly support one (version of one) religion.