Item Details

Nonreligion as a Substantial Category in Canadian Law: Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford

Issue: Vol 23 No. 1 (2020)

Journal: Implicit Religion

Subject Areas: Religious Studies

DOI: 10.1558/imre.41437


Since the 1960s there has been a considerable increase in the number of Canadians who identify as having “no religion”. The increase in the nonreligious notwithstanding, little is known about the beliefs, values, and practices of the nonreligious and what might generally entail a “worldview” commonly understood as nonreligion. Nonreligion therefore remains somewhat of a quagmire to sociologists of religion. This lack of understanding is particularly prevalent in the realm of law, particularly Canadian law as the Supreme Court of Canada has yet to define nonreligion as it has done religion. Drawing on the results of the discourse analysis of the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2013 Bedford decision this article seeks to explore the category of nonreligion as it is conceptualized in legal discourse about sex work. This article takes into consideration the changing religious and nonreligious diversity of Canadian society and argues that nonreligion is, like religion, framed as having its own positive content.

Author: Cory Steele

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Case Law

Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, 2013 SCC 72, [2013] 3 S.C.R. 1101.

Mouvement laïque québécois v. Saguenay (City), 2015 SCC 16, [2015] 2 S.C.R. 3.

R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd., [1985] 1 S.C.R. 295.

Reference re Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, 2013 SCC 72, [2013] 3 S.C.R. 1101 (Factum of the Interveners, Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto Inc).

Reference re Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, 2013 SCC 72, [2013] 3 S.C.R. 1101 (Factum of the Interveners, AWCEP Asian Women for Equality Society).

Reference re Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, 2013 SCC 72, [2013] 3 S.C.R. 1101 (Factum of the Interveners, Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres, Native Women’s Association of Canada, Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, Action Ontarienne Contre La Violence Faite Aux Femmes, La Concertation des Luttes Contre L’Exploitation Sexuelle, Le Regroupement Quebecois des Centres d’Aide et de Lutte Contre les Agressions a Caractere Sexuel, and Vancouver Rape Relief Society).

Reference re Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, 2013 SCC 72, [2013] 3 S.C.R. 1101 (Factum of the Interveners, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario).

Reference re Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, 2013 SCC 72, [2013] 3 S.C.R. 1101 (Factum of the Interveners, Christian Legal Fellowship, Catholic Civil Rights League, and Real Women of Canada).

Reference re Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, 2013 SCC 72, [2013] 3 S.C.R. 1101 (Factum of the Interveners, Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society, Pace Society and Pivot Legal Society).

Reference re Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, 2013 SCC 72, [2013] 3 S.C.R. 1101 (Factum of the Interveners, The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association).

Reference re Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, 2013 SCC 72, [2013] 3 S.C.R. 1101 (Factum of the Interveners, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada).

Reference re Canada (Attorney General) v. Bedford, 2013 SCC 72, [2013] 3 S.C.R. 1101 (Factum of the Interveners, The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS).