Thank you for your prayers for Monday’s presentation to the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector about the public benefits of Advancing Religion. We believe that your prayer support will result in a good outcome when the Committee’s report is issued in the Fall.
CCCC asked that the Committee’s report endorse Advancing Religion as a charitable purpose because of its many public benefits.
CCCC CEO Rev. John Pellowe was accompanied by two staff members from the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada who came as observers. All agreed that the presentation appeared to be well-received by the senators. While CCCC was prepared for challenging questions, the committee members did not present any. This likely indicates they found no points to challenge in the written and oral presentations, and they did not find our request controversial. This is good news. It is apparent that the Committee is in a learning posture, genuinely wanting to hear from the charitable sector.
Why did CCCC feel it necessary to promote religion’s public benefits?
There were three reasons:
- There was a specific recommendation to the committee that needed a response. The B.C. Humanist Association recommended the removal of Advancing Religion as a charitable purpose on page 4 of their brief, which can be read here: https://sencanada.ca/content/sen/committee/421/CSSB/Briefs/CSSB_BCHumanistAssociation_e.pdf
- This Committee is studying the impact of the voluntary sector and is ideally placed to get our story into government records and out to public servants and politicians. Various groups are becoming more and more vocal in their calls to eliminate Advancing Religion as a charitable purpose and we need to present a counter-argument to generate an alternative narrative. The following are examples of recent calls to take away charitable status for churches and religious organizations:
- See page 3 of a paper published by Abortion Rights Coalition Canada, available here: http://www.arcc-cdac.ca/postionpapers/80-Charitable-Tax-Status.pdf
- A paper published by the Secular Alliance of Canada, available here: http://secularalliance.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/CSA-briefing-note-Religious-charities-14May2014.pdf
- Numerous articles in legal journals calling for the end of charitable status and the end of legal protections for religion.
- Even without the challenges to charitable status, religious charities form a significant portion of Canada’s registered charities and deserve to have their story told to those in government and to the public.
What CCCC will do:
- While the spiritual benefits of Christianity are the main concern for all of us working in Christian ministry, CCCC will continue to promote the other benefits to inspire Christian ministry workers and volunteers with the knowledge that their work has far greater reach than they may know about.
- CCCC will keep you informed about further developments with the Committee related to Advancing Religion and will update you when the report is issued.
- In April, CCCC will publish an expanded version of the Senate brief that includes citations for the research that our brief was based on.
- CCCC is close to having a book published on the public benefit of Advancing Religion, which will feature the full academic version of the Senate submission along with the perspectives of several lawyers from Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
What you can do:
- Pray that the Committee endorses the public benefits of Advancing Religion in its report.
- Talk about the public benefits that apply to all Canadians with people in your sphere of influence so that they begin to appreciate the larger significance of religion in Canadian society.
Canadian Council of Christian Charities