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Research with the BC Humanists

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Newmarket Today, Dec. 9, 2022

Report slams Newmarket, other councils for prayers at meetings

Newmarket and other Ontario municipalities earned scorn in a new report calling for an end to prayers at municipal council meetings. The B.C. Humanist Society released a report analyzing the 2018 inaugural council meetings and found that 156 municipalities (47.6 per cent), including Newmarket, have still maintained the practice. The organization said this runs contrary to a 2015 Supreme Court ruling that found prayers at council meetings to breach a municipality's duty of neutrality.  

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OnlySky, May 12, 2022

Canada’s government rejects motion to end daily prayer in House of Commons

“It was disappointing to see so few MPs actively engaging in the substance of the issue and standing up to support the separation of religion and government,” said BCHA Research Coordinator Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaroff. “Instead of taking the opportunity to reflect on the duty of religious neutrality and how to ensure that Parliament is a welcoming and inclusive space that reflects the diversity of Canadians, they chose to chastise the Bloc for using their opposition day to present a perfectly valid motion.”

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Winnipeg Sun, March 28, 2022

BC group calls out Winnipeg for opening council meetings with prayers

A group of British Columbia humanists, atheists and agnostics is calling out the City of Winnipeg for its practice of beginning its council meetings with prayers in a new report, released on Monday. The BC Humanist Association (BCHA) found seven Manitoba municipalities that have opened council meetings with prayers, seemingly in open violation of a decision from the Supreme Court of Canada. Three of those municipalities, including the City of Winnipeg, begin every council meeting with a prayer while six began their most recent inaugural meeting when newly elected officials are sworn in with a prayer.

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NSRN 2021 Conference,

July 7, 2021

Practitioners Session: Legislative Prayer in Canada

The following is a recording of the practitioners session from the NSRN 2021 Conference. Presenters from the BCHA:
Teale Phelps Bondaroff, Research Coordinator

Adriana Thom, Researcher

Ian Bushfield, Executive Director

Katie Marshall, Board Member

RESPONDENT: Solange Lefebvre, Université de Montréal

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Canadian Atheist, Feb. 16, 2021

2021 Canadian Atheist Awards – Person of the year – Teale Phelps Bondaroff

For his continued and wide-ranging work making Canada—and the world—a better, more humanist place, for his research combating Christian hegemony and furthering secularism, and for his success in making real change happen even in the usually unyielding halls of power… Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaroff, you are Canadian Atheist’s 2021 person of the year.

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CFAX 1070, Dec. 21, 2020

Should churches that break COVID rules lose tax exemptions? 

Churches and religious buildings receive statutory property tax exemptions, and some also get additional property tax relief. Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaroff - BC Humanist Association, joined Adam to talk about if they should be eligible for tax breaks when they are breaking COVID rules?

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Times Colonist, Dec. 21, 2020

Churches breaking COVID-19 rules still get government tax breaks

PTEs “exist specifically to support work that benefits the community,” said BCHA researcher Taele Phelps Bondaroff. “So, I would argue that a place of worship that is holding meetings in open defiance of COVID-19 regulations that are in place to keep people safe and prevent the spread of the pandemic is not providing a service that benefits the community – quite the opposite.

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Chilliwack Progress, Nov.27, 2020

Most municipalities no longer begin council sessions with prayer: BC Humanist report

Starting a municipal council meeting with prayer was ruled unconstitutional in a 2015 Supreme Court decision.

Municipalities across the country have had a few years to stop the inclusion of prayer in their meetings and change procedures, according to a new report from the BC Humanist Association, ‘Duty of Neutrality Beyond Saguenay.’

Chilliwack, Langley, and White Rock were among the 23 municipalities found by researchers to have violated the “duty of religious neutrality” in 2018 by beginning their inaugural council meetings with prayers.

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Globe and Mail, Nov. 29, 2019

B.C. Legislature changes rules to allow secular ‘reflections’ to open proceedings

British Columbia’s Legislature has changed its rules to formally allow “reflections” to open proceedings each day, in addition to prayer, amid a debate about the place of religion in Canadian assemblies....

The formal change follows criticism from organizations such as the B.C. Humanist Association, that the practice of legislative prayer “discriminates against non-believers and violates the state’s duty of religious neutrality.”

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