Recently, the Chaplain General of the Canadian Armed Forces issued a directive restricting military chaplains from praying at official ceremonies. The justification for this new policy was a 2015 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that struck down a bylaw allowing Catholic prayers at city council meetings in Saguenay, QC.According to the Chaplain General, the Canadian Forces must now be religiously neutral. Instead of religious prayers, chaplains "should employ a language mindful of the Gender Based Analysis (GBA+) principles."Of course, GBA principles embody a particular leftist political ideology and are not themselves neutral. Thus, the stated claim of attaining neutrality is a sham.The directive’s real impact is to impose progressive ideology as the official religious perspective of the Canadian Armed Forces. Christianity out, leftist dogma in. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court’s decision at the root of this matter points to a fundamental change that has occurred in Canada due to the adoption of Pierre Trudeau’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982. In the Saguenay decision, the court explained government neutrality towards religion was required by the Charter: “The obligation of State neutrality has today become a necessary consequence of the consecration of freedom of conscience and religion in the Canadian Charter and in the Quebec Charter.”This contrasts sharply with the situation before 1982, when there were no constitutional impediments to government recognition of religion. At that time, Canada did not have anything like the “Establishment Clause” of the US Constitution, which prohibits any perceived government support for religion.In Canada, governments could favour one religion over another in certain policies. Not surprisingly, the favoured religion was Christianity.However, after the Charter was adopted, the Canadian Supreme Court interpreted Section 2(a) (“2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: (a) freedom of conscience and religion;”) largely as if it functioned like the American Establishment Clause.In 2006, University of Detroit law professor Jeremy Patrick wrote an article explaining the Charter contains what he calls a “hidden establishment clause.” He says, “Functionally, the Charter often mandates the separation of church and state in Canada. This ‘hidden establishment clause’ can be seen in court decisions invalidating prayer at city council meetings, religious education in public schools and national Sunday closing legislation.”In the past, there was a positive relationship between governments and Christianity in Canada. As Patrick points out, “Between 1750 and 1802, Protestantism became the official religion in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, and it was a favoured religion in Newfoundland and Upper Canada (Ontario).”From 1791 until 1854, public land was set aside in both Upper and Lower Canada (Ontario and Quebec) for the support of Protestant clergy.A national Lord’s Day Act was passed in 1906 to prohibit certain business and recreational activities in Canada on the basis of the Fourth Commandment.Some provinces required the reciting of the Lord’s Prayer and Bible reading in public schools.Some municipal councils began their meetings with the reciting of the Lord’s Prayer.This was normal, day-to-day life in Canada before the Charter.However, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau wanted a different kind of Canada, one without so many Christian trappings. He admired the American system and looked to it for inspiration in writing Canada’s Charter.Patrick notes, “The American Bill of Rights was an important influence on the wording of the Charter.” Because the Charter was patterned on the American system, American judicial precedents suddenly became influential for interpreting Canada’s new constitution.Then, one after another of Canada’s Christian public elements was torn from the national fabric. First to go was the Lord’s Day Act. In the famous Big M Drug Mart decision of 1985, it was struck down specifically because it imposed a Christian religious obligation on the country.Next, in 1988 and 1990 respectively, two Ontario Court of Appeal decisions set precedents that affected education policy in most of the other provinces. Patrick explains: “In the first case, the Court of Appeal struck down the practice of beginning each school day with the recitation of the Lord's Prayer and Bible readings; in the second case, the teaching of Christianity and its tenets as a matter of religious obligation was found unconstitutional.”A few years later, in 1999, in a decision known as Freitag v. Penetanguishene (Town), “the Court found that a city council's commencement of each meeting with a recitation of the Lord's Prayer violated the Charter's guarantee of freedom of religion.”Importantly, the mention of God in the Charter’s Preamble has long been considered a dead letter by the courts. The Preamble carries no legal weight in decision-making. Patrick quotes one legal expert as explaining that the reference to God is “an embarrassment to be ignored.”Before 1982, there was already a trend towards secularism in Canada, but adopting the Charter accelerated that trend and provided legal tools for secularists to use to erase many of Canada’s public Christian elements. As Patrick explains, this “move towards secularism in government affairs is bemoaned by many, but is now well-established both by law and social consensus.”Despite being long gone, Pierre Trudeau’s sinister influence on Canada continues unabated as Christianity is further banished from public life due to his Charter.