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Religious Freedom in Canada - Person celebrating religious freedom in Canada

Take Action 2021: Learn more and take action on Conscience Rights in your province.


Religious freedom is critical to our quest to know and worship God. Living out our religious beliefs includes gathering together to worship God, teach, do good works, and share our faith. Religious freedom is the ability to hold religious beliefs and live them out, personally and in community, privately and publicly. 

Canada is a nation in which people of different faiths live side by side. Canadian law and society recognize the significance of religious belief and practice. Freedom of conscience and religion are the first fundamental freedoms listed in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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Religious Freedom in Canada

Conscience legislation needed

Canadian Christians have a role to play as the federal government expands access to euthanasia and assisted suicide. Medical health professionals need conscience protection, and they are asking the Church to help. No one should be forced to participate in ending the lives of their patients. Read more.

Definition of conversion therapy

Bill C-6 proposes a ban conversion therapy in the Criminal Code. The EFC agrees there is no place in our communities or our country for coercive, involuntary or abusive practices. Nonetheless, the EFC is very concerned that the definition of conversion therapy in the bill is not clear and specific. The EFC is asking for changes to the bill to protect voluntary conversations and religious teaching. Read more.

Quebec law violates religious freedom

In 2019 Quebec has passed Bill 21, banning religious symbols from being worn by government employees in a position of authority while they are at work. This bill applies to teachers and principals in the public school system, police officers and others. The EFC considers Bill 21 to be a violation of religious freedom. Read the EFC’s statement on Bill 21.

Submissions to government on these issues

Jump to our Government page to see more detailed documents we have submitted on these issues.

Religious freedom concerns may arise in any area of life, including the workplace, schools, governance structures and more.

Religious freedom is one of the first fundamental freedoms listed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and is also protected in provincial human rights codes. Religious freedom is also protected in specific areas of federal and provincial legislation, as well as international human rights agreements.

The Charter upholds freedom of religion, but does not define it. The courts are clarifying what this term means and how it is to be applied, including how the Charter protection of religious freedom will be balanced with other Charter guarantees.

As Canadian society becomes increasingly secular, there is more dialogue and more friction at the intersection of religion and public life. How religious beliefs, expression and practice are treated by government and in the private sector is a subject of ongoing discussion. 

The EFC promotes religious freedom and the freedom of religious communities to exist and flourish. The EFC has intervened in many important legal cases on religious freedom and has influenced key decisions.
We are created by God to seek Him and know Him. God intends humanity to be free in this quest to know Him and worship Him in fullness and in truth. God gives us freedom to choose whom we will worship and serve. 

Our faith in God gives meaning and purpose to life. It shapes our understanding of the world and our place in it. Our common beliefs and actions bind us together and provide a foundational source of identity.

Living out our religious beliefs includes gathering together to worship God, teach, do good works and share our faith. Religious freedom is the ability to hold religious beliefs and live them out, personally and in community, privately and publicly.

Religious freedom is critical to our quest to know and worship God, and includes the right to change one’s faith.

History shows that when religious freedom is protected, all other rights and freedoms are more secure. When religious freedom is curtailed, other freedoms are soon compromised and lost.

Freedom of religion affects everyone. If courts restrict religious expression and practices, even those of another religion, it may affect every believer in Canada.

Pray

  • Offering thanks to God for the freedom of religion we currently enjoy
  • For boldness to follow God’s calling to be salt and light
  • For our nation to allow religious communities to exist and flourish
  • For wisdom for the courts and elected officials 

Become involved

  • Foster positive dialogue with friends, neighbours and co-workers about the role of religious beliefs and communities
  • If you encounter disinformation about religious beliefs, address it respectfully and graciously
  • Support interventions in court cases that will influence how religious freedom in Canada is understood
  • Ask legislators to uphold and strengthen protection for religious freedom
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