Boreal

God in the Canadian Charter of Rights

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms begins with an affirmation with which a substantial minority (if not a majority) of Canadians would disagree, and on which most historians must choke; that doing God’s work was uppermost on the minds of those who drafted the British North America Act (BNA) of 1867, with the rule of law a close or distant second.

Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:

Nowhere in the British North America Act of 1867 is God even mentioned. The only possible reference to God, and it’s a tenuous one, is the proclamation that Canada’s government is still subservient to the British monarch, the head of Henry VIII’s church:

The Executive Government and Authority of and over Canada is hereby declared to continue and be vested in the Queen.

The "supremacy of God" in the Canadian Charter is a copycat restatement of the “one nation under God” declaration in the American Pledge of Allegiance.

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy (1855-1931), a Baptist minister. It originally did not include the phrase “one nation under God.” The good reverend wanted the pledge to apply to everyone, not just those who believed in an all-powerful invisible friend. It was President Eisenhower who, in 1954, convinced Congress to amend the pledge to include “one nation under God.”

The first amendment to the American Constitution, (the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights) declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

It could not be clearer, and it is this clarity of language and intention which has successfully repelled repeated attempts by religious forces to establish a beachhead in secular territory.

There is no leeway in the American Bill of Rights for judges to impose their own interpretation of the meaning of the First Amendment as it applies to the separation of State and Church, and thereby blur the line between the secular and the sacred as has happened in Canada.

In Canada, that line is in danger of disappearing altogether.