I live in Canada (province of Québec), where we have the Charter of Rights and Freedom that says:
Equality before and under law and equal protection and benefit of law
Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
For a while, I've been wondering why religion is more important than other types of morals, philosophies, or beliefs, but over time I realised that every reason someone would give me also functions for money as well.
According to Legal Line's recent surveys of Canadian lawyers, it would likely cost $10,000-$25,000 to sue someone. I don't know about you, but with a minimum yearly wage of $27,000 before taxes ($13,50 x 40h/week x 50 weeks), I might have some trouble finding $10,000 to sue someone, even if I know for a fact they are in the wrong.
While legal aid exists, there are cases where you cannot get legal aid in my province (like to sue someone for defamation). Pretty much everywhere, the most experienced, and competent have a tendency to go in the private companies, because they can earn more money. Making it less likely that you will get a top tier lawyer while receiving legal aid. Plus, you have less options about who will represent you in court. Also, if you gain more than $34,321 before taxes in a year (leaving you with under $30,000 after taxes), chances are you'll have to pay for those fees yourself. You earn too much.
With those differences set out, here are all the reasons that I have heard or read in the past why money is ok, but not religion, and how I see them applying to money as well
- "You are born into a religion, and your parents have a heavy influence on which religion you have as an adult"
You can be born into poverty, or into fortune. Chances are, if your parents are poor, you won't be super rich when you become an adult. And if your parents are rich, chances are that you will have a head start compared to most people when you reach adulthood.
- "You can just work more hours / get a better job / work harder / start your own business"
There are always options that you can try to have more money, each with their own risks or downsides. In the same way, nothing prevents you from practicing a different religion, or no religion at all.
- "People have beliefs. It's hard to go against your own beliefs. It would be a bad thing for people to have to choose between their beliefs or a better treatment from others if religion would be a source of discrimination"
Beliefs can clash with the need for money. I have a very personal dilemma in that aspect. I have the belief that who you are should rarely affect the consequences for your actions. In Canada, it is legally required for employee to be loyal to their employer, so I do not wish to have an employer or employees, forcing me to choose between working on my own, with no guarantee whatsoever, or step on my beliefs and get a job.
- "Religion is a protected class to prevent bigger/more powerful religions from oppressing smaller/weaker religions"
By that logic, shouldn't money be as protected as religion then? $5,000 to serve a defamation lawsuit to someone saying bad (but true) things about you isn't much if you make millions. But the average person might just try to settle out of court, Even if it's clearly not defamation in their eyes, because $8,500-$20,000 to defend in court is a lot to someone having only $30,000 to spend per year.
So, what am I missing? Or what am I misunderstanding? Why is a barrier of entry in the form of money ok, or how is it not discrimination? Or perhaps I'm not getting what equal before and under the law, equal protection and equal benefit of the law mean?