Research with the BC Humanists


Canadian Atheist, July 18, 2021

Ask Dr. P.B. – The Arbiters of Faith

Question: So, you submitted a report entitled, “The Arbiters of Faith: Legislative Assembly of BC Entanglement with Religious Dogma Resulting from Legislative Prayer.” What was the purpose of this paper and what are some of the general overview points of this paper report?

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BCHA, July 12, 2021

A Public Good? Religious property tax exemptions in BC

In a recent report, the BC Humanist Association called on municipalities to adopt public benefits tests for tax exemptions granted to places of worship. These tests, the report states, are necessary to ensure potential recipients of tax exemptions — which total millions each year — provide services that benefit the community as a whole. This measure would provide much needed safeguards to prevent tax funds from supporting organizations that operate as private clubs, discriminate against protected groups, operate commercial enterprises, or break the laws, such as COVID-19 regulations.

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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


LUEE, June 21, 2021

Life, the Universe, and Everything Else Podcast Episode 169: Legislative Prayer

On this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Gem, Ashlyn, and Lauren speak with Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaroff, the Research Coordinator for the BC Humanist Association, about his research into unconstitutional governmental prayer in Canada.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a podcast that explores the intersection of science and society.

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BCHA, June 15, 2021

An extra burden: The clergy residence deduction

"Through the clergy residence deduction, the government is explicitly supporting religion over non-religion, a clear violation of the government’s duty of religious neutrality. If the goal of the deduction is to support those who work from home, there are other deductions that do not specifically promote religion over non-religion, and one specific religion, the majoritarian religion, over others. It's time for this antiquated deduction to be abolished."


Canadian Atheist, May 27, 2021

Ask Dr. P.B. 3 – History and History-Making: Public Prayers & Land Acknowledgements

The reason that you do a territorial acknowledgement is to show recognition and respect for Indigenous peoples. It recognizes the past and the present, and it establishes a basis for respect and recognition. This is important if you’re going to develop some healthy reciprocal relationships with different communities, right? Acknowledging past harms is important for reconciliation to happen. And this can be an important part of reconciliation if done in a meaningful way.


Canadian Atheist, May 26, 2021

Ask Dr. P.B. 2 – Public Prayers: Inclusion, Exclusion, and Decolonization

It extends arguments as to why we should abolish legislative prayer. A lot of the report builds on the analysis, which, basically, found the prayer were not representative of the population of British Columbia. This supplementary report flows directly from the House of Prayers study, wherein, we noticed a tiny number of prayers contained Indigenous language and content. We wanted to do a separate report that explored Indigenous content in BC Legislature prayers, and explored and contextualize the issue in more detail.


BCHA, Feb. 22, 2021

A public good? Property tax exemptions for places of worship in British Columbia

The BC Humanist Association released a report today calling on municipalities to adopt regular benefits tests for tax exemptions granted to places of worship. These tests, the report states, are necessary to ensure potential recipients of tax exemptions — which total millions each year — provide services that benefit the community as a whole.

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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?


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.

Rossary.jpg, November 27, 2020

No prayer? Some Okanagan councils chastised for violating 'duty of religious neutrality'

Several municipalities in the Okanagan have broken religious neutrality laws by holding prayers during their inaugural council meetings. The City of Armstrong, the District of Peachland and the Township of Spallumcheen were all found to have violated the Canadian constitution by beginning with a prayer at their inaugural council meetings in 2018.

Of the 162 municipalities in the province, 23 were found to have delivered prayers during inaugural council meetings, according to a recent report by the B.C. Humanist Association.

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Saanich News, Nov. 26, 2020

Christian-based prayer at inaugural Vancouver Island council meetings violates court ruling

The BC Humanist Association, a self-defined voice for atheists, agnostics and the non-religious of B.C., released a report Tuesday that found 23 out of 162 B.C. municipalities had included prayer during their 2018 inaugural meetings. That prayer is in violation of the 2015 Supreme Court of Canada’s Saguenay ruling and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees “freedom of conscience and religion.”


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.”