June 17, 2024
Press Coverage

Yonge-Dundas Square concert ban Christian bigotry

Let’s quit the multicultural crap, Canada. Let’s call it like it is: Our society views some cultures and creeds as more equal than others. Simply put: Christians are fair game for unfair treatment.

The latest case of unabashed anti-Christian bigotry hails from the heart of our nation’s most populous city. A Christian concert has literally been banned from Toronto’s public square.

Voices of the Nations (VOTN) has been using city property since 2006 for their annual multi-denominational event that celebrates Christianity through peaceful praise and worship. While the group used Yonge-Dundas Square for the past five years without issue, the City of Toronto is refusing to grant VOTN a permit for next year’s music festival.

According to unelected city bureaucrats, the group is guilty of proselytizing — something forbidden under the square’s Performance and Display Policy.

To be clear, proselytizing is defined as the “attempt to convert someone from one religion, belief or opinion to another.”

However, Natalie Belman, manager of events for Yonge-Dundas Square, appears to hold an unorthodox interpretation of the term. In a recorded conversation with VOTN organizers, Belman said: “It doesn’t matter if it’s speaking or singing. Either way, ‘If you’re praising Jesus’ and ‘Praise the Lord’ and ‘There’s no God like Jehovah’ — that type of thing — that’s proselytizing.” Meanwhile, Belman offered no evidence of particular artists or performances that attempted to induce passersby to convert to Christianity.

But organizers of the banned music festival don’t intend on taking the city’s decision lying down. Armed with a petition containing some 23,000 signatures, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is now threatening the City of Toronto with legal action.

The merits of the case are straightforward. Canadians possess the fundamental freedoms of expression and religion, guaranteed by our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The city’s decision in this case constitutes a direct violation of both.

What’s striking, though, is the temerity with which this gathering is being given the boot — the conspicuous anti-Christian spirit shrouding the whole debacle. Can you imagine a city official saying such a thing to a Muslim or Jewish group? “Sorry, singing about Muhammad is forbidden.” Public outrage would be deafening and for good reason. The public square belongs to the public, including people of all religious, ethnic, cultural and political persuasions.

The fact of the matter is no other group has been given the same line. Almost daily, Muslims, Buddhists, members of the LGBT community and Hindu groups share their beliefs in that very city square.

So why the ban after five years of permits and predictable peaceful praise? Why this group specifically? Because the illegal suppression of VOTN is simply another chapter in this nation’s history towards a new normal: Content-based censorship of Christians.

This disturbing trend is sweeping the nation and is leading to the corrosion of our bedrock freedoms. In an uncalled for and overreaching move, newly-minted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau barred pro-life politicians from his party, an outright violation of MP hopefuls’ freedom of religion and conscience — conventionally respected rights when it comes to party discipline.

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s shady sex-ed curriculum was instituted with blatant disregard of denominational rights afforded to separate schools in this province. Law societies in British Columbia and Ontario have upheld their decisions to deny accreditation to Trinity Western University graduates due to their personal faith-based pledge, which has zero consequence in how these students will go on to practise law in this nation.

Now, Toronto’s Christians are being told they can’t so much as utter the name of Jesus, lest they be plucked from the public sphere. This, as demands for accommodation of other groups widen in both scope and sphere.

History paints a grim picture of those societies that viewed religious freedom as a second-class right and people of a certain religion to be second-class citizens. Canadian Christians are taxpayers, they are men and women with constitutionally-protected rights and freedoms like any other Canadian of any colour or creed.

It is irrational and absurd that our bureaucracy needs to be reminded of these facts.

— Goldy is co-host of The Zoomer with Conrad Black 


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