Free to Believe: Rethinking Freedom of Conscience and Religion in Canada

Free to Believe: Rethinking Freedom of Conscience and Religion in Canada

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By Mary Anne Waldron
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2013
World Rights
312 Pages
ISBN 9781442613843
Published May 2013
Online discount: 15%
 $30.95    $26.31
ISBN 9781442645554
Published Jun 2013
Online discount: 25%
 $72.00    $54.00
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442663084
Published May 2013
Online discount: 26%
Full purchase $30.95

Free to Believe investigates the protection for freedom of conscience and religion – the first of the “fundamental freedoms” listed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – and its interpretation in the courts. Through an examination of decided cases that touches on the most controversial issues of our day, such as abortion, same-sex marriage, and minority religious practices, Mary Anne Waldron examines how the law has developed in the way that it has, the role that freedom of conscience and religion play in our society, and the role it could play in making it a more open, peaceful, and democratic place.

While the range of cases explored will be of interest to scholars, Free to Believe is also written in an accessible style, with legal terms and concepts explained for those who wish to learn accurate, detailed information about the impact of the law on contemporary social policy issues. As such, this book widens the debate about this fundamental freedom and the influence of public opinion on what is often a misrepresented and misunderstood issue.

Mary Anne Waldron is a professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria.

Chapter One: Introduction: How Freedom of Conscience and Religion Are Protected and Why It Matters

Chapter Two: Early Cases: Getting Off on the Wrong Foot

Chapter Three: Culture Wars: Majority versus Minority Values

Chapter Four: When Religion and Politics Intertwine

Chapter Five: Human Rights: A Zero Sum Game?

Chapter Six: Conflicting Rights: A Balancing Act?

Chapter Seven: Freedom of Conscience: The Forgotten Human Right

Chapter Eight: Can We Change? (And Why We Should)


Free to Believe should make a significant impact on the legal landscape in Canada. Mary Anne Waldron raises some very pressing, even urgent, questions, but in arguing controversial points remains fair and even-handed. Written with exceptional clarity, this book is accessible to the non-expert while serving the legal community well. Highly recommended!’

Douglas Farrow, Faculty of Religious Studies, McGill University

Free to Believe is a significant book, contributing fresh analysis to an important area in Canada.”

Iain Benson, Legal Philosopher, Scholar, and Senior Associate Counsel, Miller Thomson LLP

‘This thought provoking book provides readers with a valuable perspective for modern democratic issues.’

Nicholas Horlick, Saskatchewan Law Review vol 77:2014

‘This uniquely brilliant contribution to the study of diverse social values is also timely as the Quebec government endeavors to inscribe Quebec society’s putative values in a controversial charter… Highly recommended.’

A.F. Johnson, Choice Magazine vol 51:08:2014

Canadian Law and Society Association Book Prize (Canada) - Winner in 2014
Outstanding Academic Title awarded by CHOICE (United States) - Winner in 2015