Canadians Protest Toronto's Ban on Christian Music

A crow flies past a cross in Dublin, May 20, 2009. ((Photo: Reuters/Cathal McNaughton))

The "Stop Bullying Christians Now" campaign in Toronto over the weekend brought together hundreds of protesters who stood up against the city's decision to ban a Christian music group from performing at a public square.

The campaign posted a thank you message to all of its supporters on its Facebook page, that read:

"We would like to thank each and every person for being at the rally and ask you to please support the movement of Christian Positive Space, the cause of Voices of the Nations, and Christ's Forgiveness Ministries as they continue to set up Gospel booths around the city. Please also support your local church and your pastor's who are standing for the Gospel daily."

While Toronto Sun estimated that around 100 people came out in support for Voices of the Nations, the Christian group that was denied permission to perform at Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square in 2016, other Christian organizations put the number of participants higher, at between 600 and 700.

The VOTN concert has taken place at the square since 2010, said founding director Peter Ruparelia, but this time around the group was denied permission for its planned 2016 concert.

Toronto officials explained that the application was denied because the group was accused of "proselytizing."

"Basically she said that one of our performers was singing 'There's no god like Jehovah' over and over again and I guess to them that's proselytizing," Ruparelia explained. "So that's one of the reasons why they don't want to give us a permit for next year."

Participants at Saturday's rally stood up for the music group, chanting slogans such as "We are Christians! All the time Christians!" and waved placards with the words "Stop Bullying Christians Now."

Campaign organizer David Lynn said that the purpose of the rally was to fight for equality.

"We're here simply to make sure that Christians also have fair treatment like anybody else," Lynn said, according to the Toronto Sun.

VOTN will have its appeal presented at the Board of Management for Yonge-Dundas Square on Dec. 10, with the The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms pointing out that city officials have allowed other religious-themed events at the square, including Hare Krishna chanting, and candlelight vigils against Islamophobia.

The musical group has said that its mission is "to provide a venue and unite the various denominations, cultures and the outstanding talents within the Christian community" and "to embrace and celebrate the wonderful diversity in the city."

This article was originally published in The Christian Post.

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