The following are some ideas from a draft paper released by CRA:

“For charity law purposes a religion must have three key attributes: 1) faith in a “higher unseen power” such as God, a Supreme Being or Entity, 2) worship/reverence, and 3) a particular and comprehensive system of doctrines and observances.

A registered religious charity must advance a religion. Not everything done in the name of religion advances religion within the meaning of charity law. Advancing religion involves promoting and manifesting doctrine, observances, and practices. In other words, the key attributes of religion must to some degree be manifest in the activities of the organization.

Advancement of religion is not limited to faith and worship but can be done in a “wide variety of ways”, including activities that are practical expressions of the religion, provided they can be linked to the religion and faith and practice are present.

A charity may focus its activities on programs or a limited number of tenets of faith, if there is a clear connection with the advancement of a particular religion. The more narrow the focus of the organization in relation to the wider teachings of the religion the greater the expectation will be for a clear connection between its activities and the stated religious purpose.

Religion may be advanced by what may seem like secular activities provided that the religious purposes are clearly stated, the methods of advancement are a reasonable means to achieve the purpose and faith and practice are evident.

A non-charitable purpose can not be advanced in the name of religion.

Activities that do not advance religion are permitted only to the extent that they are incidental and ancillary to advancing religion.

An organization that advances religion must do so for the public benefit. While “benefit” is assumed in the absence of evidence to the contrary, the public element must be proven.

Private benefit is allowed to the extent that it is incidental to advancing religion, necessary and reasonable.