Faith Communities

The Cardus Faith Communities program conducts research and promotes understanding of Canadians’ freedom of religion and conscience, the place of religion in the public square, and the ways in which faith congregations are active contributors to our common life.

Program Director

Andrew Bennett

Our latest project – The Anglosphere Project – looks at the history of religious freedom in the United Kingdom, The United States of America and Canada. A joint initiative of the Religious Freedom Institute and Cardus, it offers a constitutional and institutional history of this foundational liberty in the Anglo-American tradition. Read more at this link.

Research & Policy

The Shifting Landscape of Faith in Canada
The Shifting Landscape of Faith in Canada
2022-11-23T12:00:00

Religion holds an increasingly delicate place in Canadian society according to The Shifting Landscape of Faith in Canada. This report compiles data from nine representative surveys of the Canadian population, creating one of the most comprehensive looks at religion in Canada.

Indigenous Voices of Faith: Fr. Cristino Bouvette
Indigenous Voices of Faith: Fr. Cristino Bouvette
2022-11-17T10:00:00

Father Cristino Bouvette, who is of Métis and Cree-Ojibwe heritage, shares his view on faith and reconciliation as an Indigenous person.

Indigenous Voices of Faith: Jeff Decontie
Indigenous Voices of Faith: Jeff Decontie
2022-11-17T10:00:00

Jeff Decontie, who is of Anishinaabe and Mohawk heritage, shares his experience as an urban Indigenous professional.  

Indigenous Voices of Faith: Rosella Kinoshameg
Indigenous Voices of Faith: Rosella Kinoshameg
2022-11-17T10:00:00

Rosella Kinoshameg, from Wikwemikong on Ontario’s Manitoulin Island, shares her thoughts on faith as an Indigenous person and working as nurse in First Nations communities.

Indigenous Voices of Faith: Bill Adsit
Indigenous Voices of Faith: Bill Adsit
2022-11-17T10:00:00

These remarks by Bill Adsit from the 2022 National Prayer Breakfast in Ottawa express his views on faith, residential schools, and being Indigenous in Canada.

Reasonable Limits
Reasonable Limits
2022-02-09T06:00:00

Freedom of religion is one of the fundamental freedoms enumerated in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Advocacy of religious freedom is often misunderstood as calling for positions that would be difficult for anyone to reasonably accept.

Needs Improvement: How Public Schools Teach about Religion
Needs Improvement: How Public Schools Teach about Religion
2022-01-26T06:00:00

Are students in public schools receiving the necessary formation that will support their participation in a society that is becoming increasingly diverse in religious expression? Instructing the next generations not in a religion but about religion should be a key element of Canadian education.

Our Inner Guide: Protecting Freedom of Conscience
Our Inner Guide: Protecting Freedom of Conscience
2021-09-27T09:29:55

Conscience, though inherently individual, is vital to the common good. Using current case studies from Canada that engage freedom of conscience, this paper offers concrete recommendations as to how this human right can be robustly protected at home and abroad.

Building Community
Building Community
2021-03-11T08:00:00

Building community has not been easy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gathering restrictions have been difficult enough for those with strong relationships, but for those who were already struggling to develop meaningful connections, the added challenges of physical distancing requirements and stay-at-home orders have simply added to their social isolation.

Public Worship Leads to Public Action
Public Worship Leads to Public Action
2021-03-11T08:00:00

When we speak about public worship, especially in the Christian tradition, we often use the term liturgy. Liturgy derives from the Greek word leitourgia which originally meant any public act. Christians in particular came to refer to religious worship, which has always been a public action, as liturgy: the coming together of the Christian community to praise and hymn God; to proclaim God’s Word; to offer petitions for the community and for the world; and, for many Christians, to participate in the Eucharist. But what then? Why is public worship important? What happens after our times of public worship? What is the liturgy after the liturgy?

Ve'ahavta - A Case Study on Jewish Humanitarian Response to Poverty
Ve'ahavta - A Case Study on Jewish Humanitarian Response to Poverty
2021-03-09T08:00:00

Ve’ahavta is a faith-based initiative of the Toronto Jewish community. Its focus is on bringing about positive change in the lives of people who have been affected by poverty, homelessness, and related forms of hardship. Its outreach activities are available to anyone who might benefit, regardless of their faith or belief.

The Welcome Home, Winnipeg
The Welcome Home, Winnipeg
2021-02-05T09:00:00

The Welcome Home is a Catholic ministry in the North Point Douglas neighbourhood in Winnipeg’s North End. It serves as a gathering place for residents of the neighbourhood and offers weekly and monthly programs that respond to Jesus Christ’s beckoning in the Gospel of Matthew: “Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you” (Matthew 11:28).

Pastoral Home Care of the Archdiocese of Montreal / SASMAD
Pastoral Home Care of the Archdiocese of Montreal / SASMAD
2021-02-01T17:47:35

Le Service d’accompagnement spirituel pour les personnes malades ou âgées à domicile (SASMAD), or as it is known in English, Pastoral Home Care, is an outreach program of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Montreal. It is a free and confidential service that provides spiritual support through home visits to those who are sick or elderly. It is volunteer based and is supported by the archdiocese and by a private Catholic foundation.

Our Time - Project at Vanier Centre for Women
Our Time - Project at Vanier Centre for Women
2021-01-22T11:00:00

The OUR TIME project is a service initiative by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints volunteering at the Vanier Centre for Women, a correctional facility in Milton, Ontario. Through OUR TIME, the women incarcerated at Vanier have the opportunity to record themselves reading to their children, giving them a chance to hear their mothers’ voices while they are apart.

Union Gospel Mission: Case Studies in Faith-Based Social Service
Union Gospel Mission: Case Studies in Faith-Based Social Service
2021-01-12T09:00:00

Union Gospel Mission (UGM) ministers to people experiencing homelessness, poverty, and addiction throughout Metro Vancouver and Mission, British Columbia. Throughout its eighty-year history, Union Gospel Mission’s work has been rooted in and motived by its Christian faith. The organization meets immediate needs in the region with emergency shelter, chaplaincy services, and meals.

Matthew House: Case Studies in Faith-Based Social Service
Matthew House: Case Studies in Faith-Based Social Service
2020-11-10T15:39:02

Matthew House Ottawa provides services to refugee claimants, offering them a temporary place to live in Ottawa, Ontario, and access to an established support network as they start their new life in Canada.

Christian Horizons: Case Studies in Faith-Based Social Service
Christian Horizons: Case Studies in Faith-Based Social Service
2020-10-23T09:00:20

As its name suggests, Christian Horizons has been a Christian organization since its inception. Its founders, the Rev. Jim and Adrienne Reese, were devout members of the Baptist tradition. They envisioned and created an explicitly Christian response to the need to support people with disabilities.

Ismaili CIVIC: Case Studies in Faith-Based Social Service
Ismaili CIVIC: Case Studies in Faith-Based Social Service
2020-10-14T16:28:57

Ismaili Muslims believe that it is the role of the Imam to continuously interpret the faith of Islam according to the times.

An Institutional History of Religious Freedom in Canada
An Institutional History of Religious Freedom in Canada
2020-04-03T09:51:35

This paper aims to provide a historical context for why freedom of religion and conscience is foundational to Canadian democracy, diversity, pluralism, and to our common life as human beings living in this place, this Canada.

Who Are You? Reaffirming Human Dignity
Who Are You? Reaffirming Human Dignity
2019-10-28T08:00:22

“Know thyself.” 

This ancient Greek maxim is popular today, but also widely misunderstood. Self knowledge goes deeper than awareness of your likes, dislikes, and personal interests. To know who you are, is to know what you are. 

What kind of being am I? What does it mean to be human? Do I have dignity? Who Are You? Reaffirming Human Dignity from the Cardus Religious Freedom Institute will help you answer these questions.  

Halacha and Civil Society
Halacha and Civil Society
2019-04-30T12:00:38

In this speech given at a CRFI symposium in Ottawa, Rabbi Dr. Reuven Bulka offers personal reflections on how the respect (or lack of respect) for religious freedom in Canada has helped or hindered the Jewish community's participation in public life.  Offering his prognosis and concerns for the future of religious freedom in Canada, Rabbi Bulka explores examples of cooperation, conflict, and relevant court cases that have shaped the present relationship between civil and Jewish law in Canadian society.

Judaism and the Social Order
Judaism and the Social Order
2019-03-26T11:21:47

Two Models for Accommodation

In this paper, Jonathan Milevsky explores Jewish understandings of the social order by examining the thought of two influential 20th century rabbis, David Novak and Emil Fackenheim. This paper is the second in a series of three papers published by the Cardus Religious Freedom Institute on the intersection of civil law and Jewish law (halakha). It was delivered at a CRFI symposium at the Ottawa Torah Centre in November 2018.

Synagogue and State: The Evolution of the Relationship Between the Jewish People, Halacha, and the State
Synagogue and State: The Evolution of the Relationship Between the Jewish People, Halacha, and the State
2019-02-11T09:00:34

This paper traces the history of Jewish halachic law and its encounters with political authority and civil law around the world.  Unpacking a complex relationship, Rabbi Fogel describes how Jewish law has historically served as both a "protector" and a "bridge" for Jewish communities under oppressive, supportive, and benign governance. 

He explores Jewish views of religious and civil law, conflicts between them, and how Jewish communities and secular states have navigated tensions. He writes, "Ultimately, the relationship between Halacha and societal law is the longest-running case study of a religious minority—one that is often persecuted and oppressed—struggling to maintain its identity while simultaneously trying to engage in and contribute to the broader society. Through it all, Halacha has acted as both the protector of the Jewish faith and the bridge between the Jewish community and the societies that it has encountered. 

While this story is far from over, I hope this paper can provide some insight into how Jewish law perceives secular law, the secular state, and its relationship to both."

Opportunity and Temptation: A Reformed Christian Legal Perspective on Church Discipline in Canada
Opportunity and Temptation: A Reformed Christian Legal Perspective on Church Discipline in Canada
2019-01-21T12:00:24

In this paper, André Schutten and John Sikkema explore church-state relations in Reformed Christian thought. They describe the high view of both government and local church authority present in the Reformed tradition. They examine recent legal conflicts in Canada between church and state, including Supreme Court cases such as Wall v. Highwood Congregation and the two Trinity Western University cases (2018), and human rights tribunal proceedings regarding the institutional autonomy of congregations to enforce church discipline. This paper is the third in a series of presentations made at the Cardus Religious Freedom Institute's Symposium on the Intersection of Civil and Canon Law.

The Role of Canon Law in the Catholic Tradition and the Question of Church and State
The Role of Canon Law in the Catholic Tradition and the Question of Church and State
2019-01-14T12:00:26

This paper answers questions such as "What is Canon Law?" and "What are its sources, uses, and its theological basis in the Roman Catholic Church?" Fr. Laschuk, the Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese of Toronto, also explores Christian and canonical understandings of the proper relationship between church and state and between civil and canon law. This paper is the second in a series of three papers published by the Cardus Religious Freedom Institute on the intersection of civil and canon law.

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