POLICIES

SCS Policies – updated January 2024

The basis for these policies is the fundamental right to freedom from religion, particularly in public spaces. SCS recognizes that advocating for equal status rather than eliminating religious privileges may be a more practicable approach in some cases.

SCS has, and will maintain a registered lobbyist federally, and where possible, in provinces and territories.

SCS advocates for the elimination of legislation that favours religion in any way (e.g. Section 319 3b of the Criminal Code of Canada, and the National Anthem Act of 1980).

Funding/Subsidizing Religion

a) SCS opposes public funding of religious schools or school systems in Canada.

b) SCS opposes subsidizing religion in any way, particularly, but not limited to, the common practice of exempting religious facilities, either owned or rented, from property taxes, and other municipal, provincial, territorial, or federal taxes.

Charitable status regulations currently favour religious organizations by allowing them to have charitable status simply by having the purpose of promoting belief in their deity, while secular organizations must have three purposes to help the community at large, and demonstrate them in an annual report. SCS advocates for giving secular organizations similar access to charitable status, as religious entities.

Religion in Schools

a) SCS opposes any religious practices in publicly funded schools, at any level. This includes any opening prayers, playing of religious music (including O Canada), carols, or other religious music from any religion except in religious knowledge classes for information purposes only (see b, below)

b) Religious knowledge courses, that qualify as a part of a general study of sociology, must include the study of Secular Humanism, and other non-believer philosophies so that students understand that ethics and morality are not limited to religiously based philosophies.

Bill 21 – SCS supports Québec’s Bill 21, and similar legislation in other provinces, territories, and federally. Initial concerns about interfering in the right to personal freedom of religion have been satisfied with the realization that anyone who is paid from the public purse is already prohibited from displaying political messages on their person.

Religious Displays, Prayers, Plaques in Public Places

Based on the Supreme Court of Canada’s comments in Big M Drugs v Crown, 1984, and subsequent decisions that affirm the fundamental right to freedom from religion, SCS opposes the following that interfere with the fundamental right to freedom from religion:

a) Religious displays in municipal, provincial, territorial, or federal buildings,

b) Religious holiday displays that exclude Secular Humanist or other non-believer symbols in public venues,

c) The presence of plaques, and other images that promote religious messages of any kind in publicly funded spaces,

d) Religious music in malls, and other places where non-believers have a reasonable expectation of respect for their right to freedom from religion while they exercise their right to be there.

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship

SCS works with other national and international organizations (Atheist Republic, Humanist International, CFIC) to facilitate refugee acceptance by the Government of Canada. For example, SCS got the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship to acknowledge that non-believing refugees were eligible to make non-complex claims to avoid some hearings.

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Goals

Advocate for elimination of discrimination against Secular Humanists and other non-believers in Canada,

Facilitate communication among Canadian Secular Humanists, and with other non-believers,

Speak to the world regarding the human rights of Secular Humanists and others.