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date: 28 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines freedom of religion in the Canadian Constitution. After locating the modern protection of freedom of religion within Canadian constitutional history, the chapter explores the Supreme Court of Canada’s interpretation of that right, drawing particular attention to how constitutional law defines and understands religion itself. The chapter then turns to three themes that have emerged as central in the freedom of religion jurisprudence, but that also reflect broader issues within Canadian constitutionalism: the instability of the public/private divide as a means of analysing constitutional problems, the tension between individual rights and regard for collective and community interests, and the paradoxes involved in the aspiration for state neutrality. Ultimately, the chapter argues that freedom of religion offers a unique avenue into understanding the deeper themes, tensions, ideologies, and politics at work in the Canadian state, as well as the history and logic of its constitutional order.

Keywords: religion, religious freedom, public and private, state neutrality, individualism, autonomy, equality, Canada, constitutionalism, liberalism

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