Professor Moon discusses the religious freedom case of Syndicat Northcrest v. Amselem which held that a condominium association’s refusal to permit Orthodox Jewish unit-owners to construct succahs on their balconies as part of the Jewish festival of Succot breached their freedom of religion. Although this case was decided under the Quebec Charter, Professor Moon believes that the principles directly apply to a claim under section 2(a) of the Charter. In holding that the condominium association had violated the appellants’ freedom of relgion, the majority judgment of Justice Iacobucci made two significant determinations concerning the scope of the freedom. First, Justice Iacobucci held the freedom of religion protects practices that are not part of an established religious belief system. Second, a practice will be protected under the section even though it is not regarded as obligatory by the individual claimant. He argues that the two holdings do not sit well together. The first suggests that religious beliefs/practices are a personal matter and should be protected under the single right to freedom of conscience and religion because they have been chosen by the individual or because they are the outcome of his or her autonomous judgment. The second holding suggests that spiritual beliefs are different from other moral and fundamental beliefs and practices and should receive special protection because they are part of an individual’s deeply rooted cultural identity, and connect him to a larger cultural religious community.
"Religious Commitment and Identity: Syndicat Northcrest v. Amselem."
The Supreme Court Law Review: Osgoode’s Annual Constitutional Cases Conference
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