U.S. Department of State Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 1999 - Canada

Section I. Freedom of Religion

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides for freedom of religion, and the Government respects this right in practice.

There is no state or dominant religion; however, 82.1 percent of the population belong to Christian denominations, with Roman Catholics (45.2 percent) forming the largest single group. Other Catholic groups include Eastern Orthodox (1.4 percent) and Ukrainian Catholics (0.5 percent). Protestants constitute 36.4 percent of the population, consisting of the United Church (11.5 percent), Anglicans (8.1 percent), Presbyterians (2.4 percent), Lutherans (2.4 percent), Baptists (2.5 percent), Pentecostals (1.6 percent), and other Protestant denominations (7.9 percent). Members of other religions include Jews (1.2 percent), Muslims (0.9 percent), Buddhists (0.6 percent), Hindus (0.6 percent), Sikhs (0.5 percent), parareligious faiths such as Scientology, Kabalarianism, and Rastafarianism (0.1 percent), and other religions (0.1 percent). Those professing no religion constitute 12.5 percent of the population.

A wide range of religious faiths practice missionary activity throughout Canada without special legal restrictions.

The Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protect the rights or privileges possessed by denominational schools at the time of national union in 1867. In practice this protection has meant that some provinces have funded and continue to fund Catholic school education, and some Protestant education has been funded in some provinces (such as Quebec). The government- mandated Proulx Report in Quebec, which reportedly proposes changing the current provincial government support for specific religious instruction in public schools into support for denominationally neutral instruction, currently is under study. The report was tabled in Quebec's National Assembly in March 1999, but no action is expected to take place until late 2001.

There is no official government council for interfaith dialog, but the Government provides funding for individual ecumenical projects on a case-by-case basis.

There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report.

There were no reports of religious detainees or prisoners.

There were no reports of the forced religious conversion of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the Government's refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.

On April 14, 1999, Quebec provincial police raided the headquarters compound of a religious group identified as "The Apostles of Love" in St. Jovite, Quebec, to arrest the group leaders on charges of sexual and physical abuse of minors. The police removed 20 minor children from the compound, including 9 U.S. citizens from 2 families. There was no indication that the U.S. children had been abducted, and they were returned to the United States by provincial authorities.

Section II. Societal Attitudes

In general amicable relations exist between the various religious communities.

The B'nai Brith Canada League for Human Rights received 240 reports of anti-Semitic incidents in 1998. This represented an increase of 14 percent from the 212 incidents reported in 1997.

Section III. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. Embassy discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the overall context of the promotion of human rights.

Comments:
The Annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom describes the status of religious freedom in each foreign country, and government policies violating religious belief and practices of groups, religious denominations and individuals, and U.S. policies to promote religious freedom around the world. It is submitted in compliance with P.L. 105-292 (105th Congress) and is cited as the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
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