Dalhousie Journal of Legal Studies


Sara Knight


The United Church of Canada was created by an Act of Canadian Parliament in 1924, uniting the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Congregationalist Churches in Canada. This paper examines the confluence of religion, politics, and law that made it a forum for debate on the relationship between Church and State in Canada. A significant minority of the Presbyterian Church was opposed to the union and members of the House of Commons were concerned that both procedural and substantive fairness be met before assenting to the union. The merger of religious groups, rather than social or economic organizations, infused the process with tension surrounding freedom of conscience in religious matters, and the role of the State in matters of ecclesiastical concern. This paper also looks at the ways in which the debate reflected the changing face of Canada in the 1920s, by examining Parliamentariansʼ positions on the representation of women, the position of minorities, the need for religious freedom, the struggle for democracy, and the desire for progress.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.