A leading faith periodical has accused the B.C. Humanist Association of being “hardline secular activists.” Former Saanich councillor candidate Teale Phelps Bondaroff has been researching the subject of permissive tax exemptions for the group. (Submitted).                                A leading faith periodical has accused the B.C. Humanist Association of being “hardline secular activists.” Former Saanich councillor candidate Teale Phelps Bondaroff has been researching the subject of permissive tax exemptions for the group. (Submitted).

A leading faith periodical has accused the B.C. Humanist Association of being “hardline secular activists.” Former Saanich councillor candidate Teale Phelps Bondaroff has been researching the subject of permissive tax exemptions for the group. (Submitted). A leading faith periodical has accused the B.C. Humanist Association of being “hardline secular activists.” Former Saanich councillor candidate Teale Phelps Bondaroff has been researching the subject of permissive tax exemptions for the group. (Submitted).

Humanist group with Saanich ties accused of being “hardline secular activists”

B.C. Humanist Association wants public benefit test for charitable organizations including churches

A group with Saanich ties stands accused of being “hardline secular activists” by a leading Canadian faith publication.

Daniel Proussalidis, director of communications at Cardus, a self-described “non-partisan, faith-based think tank,” used that term in an article for Convivium, which describes itself as an “online space that brings together citizens of differing convictions and religious confessions to contend for the role of faith in our common life.”

Convivium’s publisher is Peter Stockland, a longtime Canadian journalist. Father Raymond J. de Souza, a prominent national voice among Canadian social conservatives, edits the publication.

The article describes parliamentary testimony before a Senate committee from the Canadian Council of Christian Charities (CCCC), whose chief executive John Pellowe defended the tax exemptions of religious institutions as a source of public good, even liberal democracy itself. Within this context, Proussalidis warns Canadian groups could match the demands of activists in the United Kingdom who are “pushing for the elimination of the advancement of religion as a charitable purpose.”

RELATED: Saanich community leader calls for additional improvements to permissive tax policy

RELATED: Religious institutions in Saanich may have to justify their permissive tax exemptions

RELATED: Humanist group says Saanich taxes public purse with church exemptions

“While that exact call hasn’t been heard in Canada recently, the B.C. Humanist Association – a charitable organization – is campaigning to convince municipal councillors to put the squeeze on houses of worship that enjoy broad property tax exemptions,” Proussalidis said. “The activists want religious organizations to prove their value to the community before getting these exemptions.”

Saanich resident Teale Phelps Bondaroff has been researching the issue of permissive tax exemptions for the organization in arguing that charitable organizations must undergo a public benefits test.

“Paying your fair share is a great way to benefit the community. Saanich council only managed to add $500,000 to its affordable housing fund this year, but gave away over $773,898 in permissive tax exemptions to places of worship,” said Bondaroff.

“Given that we are in a housing crisis, we may want to consider how to best allocate limited resources to maximize the benefit to the community.”

As for his relation with B.C Humanist Association, Bondaroff has been researching the issue on the group’s behalf.

“But my comments are my own and don’t necessarily reflect the views of that organization,” he said. “Creating public benefits tests and reviewing permissive tax exemption policy was also a component of my platform when I ran for Saanich council.”

Proussalidis’ article concludes with the observation that it is not clear yet when the Senate committee would produce its report.

“Until it’s delivered, Canadians of good faith might want to push senators in the direction John Pellowe’s testimony points,” said Proussalidis. “The alternative could be letting hardline secular activists move Canada along the U.K.’s uncharitable and unacceptable path.”

According to the article, Pellowe told the committee that charitable status for places of worship encourages donations of both time and money that benefit all, noting among other points that religiously active Canadians are more generous than non-religious Canadians. According to the article, Pellowe also drew a link between the charity law, the free exercise of faith and Canada’s liberal democracy.

“Religious belief, such as the value and intrinsic worth of every human being, and religious rights blazed the trail for many other rights, including freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and freedom of the press,” he said, according to the article.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Colwood Fire Rescue is reminding the public to only burn dry, seasoned wood in fireplaces after heavy smoke filled the intersection of Sooke Road and Acacia Drive when a homeowner tried burning a plastic item on Sunday, Jan. 24. (Emily Jessop photo)
Colwood homeowner burns plastic in fireplace, causes emergency response

Colwood Fire Rescue says burn dry, seasoned wood in fireplaces only

A rolled-over car was spotted in a ditch along Sooke Road near the border of Langford on the morning of Sunday, Jan. 24. (Black Press Media photo)
Car ends up in ditch along Sooke Road Sunday morning

Single vehicle spotted rolled-over just after 10 a.m. on Jan. 24

Steve Smith’s image of two sibling adolescent grizzly bears playfighting in the Chilko River in the B.C. Interior earned him best of show at the prestigious Lion’s Gate Celebration of Nature club competition for 2020-21. (Photo by Steve Smith)
Victoria Camera Club captures top spot in prestigious nature and wildlife competition

Saanich Peninsula photographers part of award-winning team

Downtown Victoria and the Inner Harbour are part of a corridor that also includes much of urban Saanich that is part of the Greater Victoria 2030 District, a sustainable buildings climate initiative announced recently. (Black Press Media file photo)
Ramping up energy efficiency in Greater Victoria buildings goal of new group

Greater Victoria 2030 District part of North American network of cities working to reduce emissions

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

The sky above Mt. Benson in Nanaimo is illuminated by flares as search and rescuers help an injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Search and Rescue)
Search plane lights up Nanaimo mountain with flares during icy rope rescue

Rescuers got injured hiker down Mt. Benson to a waiting ambulance Saturday night

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All Island seniors in long-term care will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

Most Read