The City of Toronto has just refused to grant a Christian group a permit to use a prominent downtown square for its annual musical festival next year, all because — get this — the performers sing the name of Jesus.
Voices of the Nations has been using the Yonge-Dundas Square without issue for the past five years for its annual “multi denominational” event in which it celebrates Christianity through uplifting live music and beautiful dance. This year’s August 1 event attracted 19 different performance acts, including a children’s choir from Africa and popular Christian bands.
But Natalie Belman, the city official in charge of issuing permits, has quite literally told the group that singing the name of Jesus in the public square amounts to “proselytizing,” which she says is contrary to city policy.
“If you’re praising Jesus, ‘praise the Lord,’ and ‘there’s no God like Jehovah,’ that type of thing, that’s proselytizing,” she said.
This City official seems to have taken special issue with one well-known praise-and-worship song sung during the August festival called “Days Of Elijah” where the line ‘There’s no God like Jehovah’ is sung repeatedly.
This is nothing more than blatant discrimination against Christians. Can you imagine the City Official saying something like this to a Muslim or Jewish group and getting away with it?
This City Official may even be found to be violating the province’s Human Rights Code for refusing a facility to an identifiable group because of their religious beliefs.
Mayor John Tory and the City of Toronto need to hear that Christians have as much right to be in public spaces as anybody else. It’s time to join together and urge the mayor and the city to reverse this outrageous decision.