Secularism

The British Columbia Humanist Association supports a secular society that affirms:

  • the right of every individual to practice any religion or none, free from coercion by the government, private institutions or their community and
  • that the state has a duty of religious neutrality, meaning it must neither endorse nor prohibit any belief or non-belief.

Open secularism is the best way to fully guarantee the freedom of religion and conscience of all citizens in a plural society. Secularism is the principle that the government should not privilege or disadvantage any religious or non-religious belief over any other.

We oppose government funding being given preferentially to religious organizations and tax exemptions that only benefit the religious (for example, permissive exemptions for houses of worship or the Clergy Residence Deduction). We call on the federal government to remove "the supremacy of God" from the preamble of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and to create a secular national anthem.

Latest news


Report shows prayers in BC Legislature overwhelmingly religious, Christian

A new study of prayers said by MLAs in the Legislative Assembly of BC found that the prayers were overwhelmingly religious in nature and nearly all of the sectarian prayers were identified as Christian. The report, from the BC Humanist Association, follows its call last week for MLAs to abandon...

Seven prayers from MLAs that left us scratching our heads

Going through over 850 prayers this summer, we came across a few gems I wanted to share with you prior to the release of our study on Monday. Unfortunately, we can't embed the videos here but the prayers are the first item of business if you want to watch them...

Reiterating our opposition to Quebec's Bill 21

Building on the BCHA's previous positions, and our Executive Director's statement on Quebec's Bill 21, the Board of Directors of the BC Humanist Association last week reiterated our opposition to the Quebec government's ban on religious symbols.

Budget 2020: A chance to advance a Secular BC

The BC Humanist Association has today asked the BC Legislature's Finance Committee to use Budget 2020 to advance secular values in British Columbia. In its brief, the organization identifies four ways the budget can be used to end the privileging of religious views in the province. Phase out public funding...

Senate committee recommends review of legal definition of charity

Recognizing that the laws governing Canadian charities are “outdated, convoluted”, a Senate committee is recommending a full review of whether Canada should define what a charity is in law. Whether an organization can be registered as a charity is currently determined based on a list of "good, godly and charitable"...

Quebec's "state laicity" law undermines secularism

The passage of Quebec’s Bill 21 is bad news for the state of freedom of expression, religious freedom and secularism itself in Canada. Humanists should stand united against the clear infringement on our fundamental freedoms by the Government of Quebec.

Saanich looks at public benefits tests for churches

Following a letter from the BC Humanist Association, councillors in the District of Saanich voted unanimously Monday night to move toward applying a public benefits test before granting property tax exemptions to religious groups in the municipality. The vote followed a staff report reviewing options for the District. It notes that...

Our role in ending Bible readings in BC schools

76 (1) All schools and Provincial schools must be conducted on strictly secular and non-sectarian principles. (2) The highest morality must be inculcated, but no religious dogma or creed is to be taught in a school or Provincial school. Since 1876, BC has required schools "be conducted upon strictly secular and non-sectarian principles."...

Almost no one in BC goes to church

A new poll from ResearchCo has found that only 3% of British Columbians say they attend religious services "at least once a week." Only 2% said they had "confessed or sought advice from a religious figure" in the past 12 months. The poll also found that 29% of people in...

Beyond TWU: The legal conflict between equality rights and freedom of religion

By Bethany Hastie, University of British Columbia and Margot Young, University of British Columbia From conflicts over wedding cakes to university admissions to religious schools, the tension between equality rights and religious freedom is often in the news in Canada, the United States and beyond. Public recognition of diverse family...

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