Statement on Passage of Bill 21 in Quebec


Quebec secularism bill based on “a historical fiction.” 


June 17, 2019

Rev. Dr. Andrew Bennett, Director of the Cardus Religious Freedom Institute, has released the following statement the passage of Bill 21 in the Quebec National Assembly:

“The assertion in Bill 21 that Quebec is a neutral, lay state is patently false and a historical fiction. A State that closes off the public square to citizens who choose to openly express their religious faith is not neutral; it asserts a secular ideology with secularist principles. A genuinely neutral State facilitates open expression of both religious and non-religious belief in the public square insomuch as such expression is respectful of others and of the legitimate rule of law.

The new secularism law tries to maintain the fiction of upholding freedom of religion and conscience. Religious freedom is about the public living out of faith through observance and action, both inside and outside a place of worship. Such fundamental freedoms are not gifts of the State. The State must not unjustly limit fundamental freedoms. The new law denies freedom of religion to public servants in Quebec and, in doing so, will lower a pall over all public expression of religious faith there and significantly limits Quebeckers’ ability to engage in a genuinely common life with people of different beliefs.

We possess the fundamental freedom of conscience and religion because we are human beings with dignity that the State may not sully. All opportunities for reasonable legal challenges should be pursued. Additionally, the Government of Quebec should not be surprised if public sector employers and employees conclude that civil disobedience is justified in opposing an unjust law.”

Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus - Director of Communications
613-241-4500 x508

About the Cardus Religious Freedom Institute
The CRFI researches Canadian religious freedom issues in order to educate Canadians and to strengthen the national network of religious freedom advocates. Central to the Institute’s work is the understanding that religious freedom is the fundamental right of all people, their communities, and their institutions to live out their most deeply held beliefs in both public and private contexts without interference from the state or other authorities. To learn more, visit the Cardus website.


Cardus is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society's institutions can work together for the common good.