Why CCCC is Advocating for Advancement of Religion Guidance

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why cccc is advocating for advancement of religion guidance
In the foreground are four wooden blocks with simple icons on each. A set of scales, a magnifying glass over a document, a letter with a seal affixed, and a group of three men. In the background is a blurred judge's gavel resting on the gavel block.

In a recent Philanthropist article, Why we need the CRA to publish advancement of religion guidance, CCCC’s Director of Legal Affairs explains why the advancement of religion guidance needs to be released. Despite the fact that religious charities make up almost 40% of the registered charities in Canada, the guidance has existed in some shape and form for more than a decade, and is being used within the CRA, there is no official publication. And though we know Charities Directorate has made efforts to publish the guidance, we do not know why those efforts have not yet materialized.

Over many years CCCC has consistently and respectfully inquired about the status of the religion guidance in our government interactions. This article sets out and expands on those questions and concerns, identifying how this guidance gap has both a tangible and symbolic impact.

The tangible impact is seen in a 2023 Ontario court decision where, for example, the judge cited an “absence of benchmarks” to determine whether the CRA treated a Muslim charity fairly and in the same way it would have treated a Christian or Jewish charity. Guidance could have arguably provided those benchmarks for the court.

The symbolic impact of a guidance gap can be seen in the message, even if unintentional, that religious charities do not merit a published guidance document that speaks to their work. In contrast, publishing guidance is a way to recognize the significant contributions that religious groups make to our communities and affirm a positive message about faith-based charities in Canada.

Our hope is that this article inspires and prompts discussion around the path forward, and how we can collectively advocate for recognition and support of religious charities’ essential contributions.

The content provided in this blog is for general information purposes and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Every organization’s circumstances are unique. Before acting on the basis of information contained in this blog, readers should consult with a qualified lawyer for advice specific to their situation.

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