Research with the BC Humanists

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BCHA, July 4, 2022

Changes to legislative prayer in the Isle of Man

Tynwald, the legislature of the Isle of Man, has in recent years spent considerable time reflecting on the inclusion of the Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man in the upper chamber, the Legislative Council, and in particular their ability to vote on legislation and other matters. The discussion culminated in no immediate change. It has recently returned to the constitutional entwining of church and state in relation to legislative prayers in the dominant chamber of Tynwald, the House of Keys.


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.”


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.


BCHA, October 27, 2021

Saanich endorses COVID-19 denial through permissive tax exemption

Without benefits tests for permissive tax exemptions (PTE), municipalities risk funding organizations that only provide services to their members, run commercial operations, exclude and discriminate against people or flout the law. This is exactly what the District of Saanich did at its meeting on Monday, October 25th when this municipal council unanimously voted to renew a PTE to a prosperity gospel church known for equating child disobedience to witchcraft, for preaching homophobia, endorsing and engaging in so-called ‘conversion therapy,’ and for outspoken COVID-19 denial and anti-vaccine rhetoric.

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CHEK News, September 3, 2021

Concerns raised over religious ‘tent revival’ on SD61 property

Teale Phelps Bondaroff heard about the tent revival from some friends. As the Research Coordinator for the BC Humanist Association, he takes issue with the school district renting its property to this type of religious event.

“It definitely looks like a tacit endorsement of religion and also a tacit endorsement of an organization that makes a lot of anti-science claims and is making some very wild and dangerous claims during a pandemic,” he said.

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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

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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."


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.

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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.”