2012 Royackers Lecture - Iain Benson: "Are Religious Schools Public? Reflecting on the Meanings of Secular and Secularism"

Wed, 2012-03-28 19:30 - 21:30

Iain Benson will present the 2012 Royackers Lecture, entitled "Are Religious Schools Public? Reflecting on the Meanings of Secular and Secularism." The Lecture will take place in St. Joseph Chapel, Regis College, on Wednesday, March 28th at 7:30 pm.

Iain is Extraordinary Professor, Faculty of Law, University of the Free State, South Africa and Senior Associate Counsel in the Litigation Practice Group of Miller Thomson, Toronto.

A recent article, "Unexamined Faiths and and the Public Place of Religion: Emerging Insights from the Law," Acta Theologica Supplement 11 (2011), may be viewed by clicking here.

The Royackers Lecture honours the memory of Father Martin Royackers, S.J., a Canadian Jesuit who was murdered in 2001 as he served the people of Annotto Bay, Jamaica and promoted the cause of social justice. The lecture is made possible through the benefaction of the Mundiregina Resources Canada.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Seating is limited. Please pre-register online, by emailing inquiries@RegisCollege.ca or calling 416-922-5474 x221. A reception will follow the lecture.

Regis College is located at 100 Wellesley Street West, Toronto, near the corner of Queen's Park Crescent East. Regis College is on the 94 Wellesley TTC bus route and a short walk (south) from the Museum subway station. Public parking is available in the University of St. Michael's College parking lot on St. Joseph Street, one block north of Regis College. The venue is accessible.

Iain Benson practices in the areas of administrative, judicial review (labour and human rights), constitutional law and medical/legal subjects, with a focus on advice in the area of rights and freedoms with a particular interest in constitutional law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

He has appeared before all levels of Court in Canada including the Supreme Court of Canada in cases involving human rights and constitutional law and has been a witness before a wide variety of Professional Organizations, Commissions and Parliamentary committees. He has consulted to the Attorney General of Ireland and the Policy Research Initiative of the Federal Government of Canada and is Extraordinary Professor of Law, Department of Constitutional Law and Philosophy of Law, Faculty of Law, University of the Free State (Bloemfontein) and the first non-national Research Associate for the South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law (Johannesburg).

He is a Senior Research Fellow with the Chester Ronning Centre for the Study of Religion and Public Life, Augustana Campus, University of Alberta, Canada. That Centre published a monograph by Mr. Benson entitled Living Together with Disagreement: Pluralism, the Secular and the Fair Treatment of Beliefs in Canada Today (May 2010).

He has lectured across Canada, the United States, Europe, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. At the invitation of the Canadian Bar Association Iain gave a paper to the 2006 National Conference on "Religion and the State." His work on “secular” and “secularism” has been cited with approval by the Supreme Court of Canada and the Constitutional Court of South Africa and his writings have appeared in national and local papers and he has been interviewed on most major Canadian Broadcasting Corporation programs.

Over the past two years he has been part of the Steering Committee of a working group meeting with religious leaders and NGO’s drafting the South African Charter of Religious Rights and Freedoms. He was one of two people retained (Fall, 2007) by the Policy Research Initiative (an internal Federal Government “think-tank”) looking at federal Multi-culturalism policy to write a background “think-piece” on “Religion and Public Policy.” That work, “Taking a Fresh Look at Religion and Public Policy in Canada: The Need for a Paradigm Shift” was submitted in January 2008.

He has recently been appointed to the Founding Board of the Global Centre for Pluralism, Ottawa, Canada. Under the Chairmanship of HH the Aga Khan he will serve with eleven others including Kofi Annan (former Gen. Sec'y of the U.N.), Adrienne Clarkson (former Governor General of Canada), Professor Azim Nanji (Stanford and Director of the Program of Islamic Studies) and Professor Yash Pal Ghai ( University of Hong Kong and Constitutional Expert). This joint project of the Government of Canada and the Aga Khan Development Network will develop strategic initiatives designed to increase understanding of the principles of pluralism within and between nations.

Iain is a keen squash player, cyclist and skier. He is married and the proud father of seven children.

Regis College is the Jesuit School of Theology at the University of Toronto and a Founding Member of the Toronto School of Theology.

Members of the public interested in theological education are invited to attend an open house in October and March each year.


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