The Impact of the “Advancing Religion” Charitable Sub-Sector in Canada

Submission to the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector November 23, 2018 by the Canadian Council of Christian Charities

One of the most important documents in a generation has just been made available through John Pellowe, CEO of CCCC in his presentation to the Canadian Senate on the preservation of religious charities tax exemption. The presentation refers to studies from both Canada and the United States. It’s explanation of the “advancing of religion” refers to one of the four aspects of charitable status in Canadian Tax Law. You will find the following excerpts to be pertinent wherever you live in North America, and a link to the larger paper.  It would be easy to see this paper as a tool to refute or rebuke popular conceptions of the Christian Church in contemporary culture. Knowing Pellowe as I do, nothing could be further from the truth. This is simply a humble tool in tended to bring glory to Christ and His church. For the humble way in which we can acknowledge the Holy Spirit’s power, which enables us to serve. I stand by my initial comment; this is one of the most significant documents in a generation.

Read the full paper here.


“CCCC welcomes the opportunity to participate in the process and we feel we can help the Committee with the second part of its mandate, which is “to examine the impact of the voluntary sector in Canada.” This submission examines the impact of Canadian registered charities that advance religion and establishes the public benefit of advancing religion in four categories:

  1. Religion develops and activates prosocial attitudes and behaviours, resulting in high levels of generosity and volunteerism that benefit both religious and secular charities, and improves public civility.
  2. Religion results in better personal outcomes that reduce demand on the state’s resources for rehabilitation and health care and improves quality of life and individual contribution to society.
  3. Religion has tangible community benefits in terms of social capital, infrastructure, and neighbourhood viability and a 12-times return on investment related to tax concessions.
  4. Religion creates tangible benefits for the public at large based on a core of people who are other-centred, civically engaged, and willing to work together sacrificially for the common good.” (pg.1)


“” “There is a gentleness among the Very Committed that sets them apart from other Canadians.” For example, the Very Committed care about justice, but are careful to advocate in lawful ways. When it comes to protest, the Very Committed are twice as likely to support a boycott or attend a legal demonstration as the Non-Religious. But as to illegal forms of protest, only 20% of the Very Committed would join an unofficial strike or occupy a building, compared to 50% of the Non-Religious.” (pg.3)


“Eighteen Canadian social surveys reveal that the Very Committed give more to secular charities than do the Non-Religious or anyone else. The median donation by the Very Committed to secular charities was found to be double that of the Non-Religious. The one-third of Canadians who were religious (the Very Committed and the Less Committed) together provided more than 40% of all the funds raised by secular charities. The 40% of the population who were Non-Religious gave only 30% of the donations received by secular charities. (Other Canadians fit into the middle part of the religiosity scale.) Religious Canadians give sacrificially to ensure that secular goals for the common good are achieved.” (pg. 4)


“A study of 21,000 case files from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey showed that people who never attend religious services exhibited almost twice the risk of death in the study’s eight-year followup period when compared to the Very Committed. This translates into a seven-year difference in life Page | 6 expectancy at age twenty. The relationship between frequent religious service attendance and lower mortality risk is found even in the most rigorous studies.

A study by Tyler VanderWeele, professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health showed that Very Committed women were 30% less likely to die in the 16-year period of his study than NonReligious women. The study also found that Very Committed women were five times less likely to commit suicide. VanderWeele found that religion increases social support, discourages smoking, decreases depression, and helps people have a more optimistic or hopeful outlook on life.” (pg 5)


“Not only do religious people contribute to Canadian society as individuals, but most, if not all, religions have a very strong communal aspect to religious life. The author concludes from the evidence that many benefits accrue to all Canadians because places of worship create synergy as individual members live out their faith together and accomplish something much greater together than they could achieve on their own. Places of worship benefit their local communities in four ways:

  1. A positive contribution of social capital
  2. A multiplier effect (the “Halo Effect”) that produces benefits far greater than their budgets
  3. An exceptionally high return on society’s investment through the tax system
  4. An improvement in the area’s Neighbourhood Viability Index” (pg. 6)

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