A Christian group has been denied a permit to hold its annual music festival in a prominent downtown square by the City of Toronto, which declares that singing the name of Jesus in a public venue constitutes proselytizing in a public venue — allegedly in violation of city policy.
For nearly a decade, Voices of the Nations (VON) has held its multi-denominational live Christian music and dance celebration every year on city property without incident — including the last five years at the Yonge-Dundas Square, LIfeSiteNews reports. The last event took place this summer on August 1, which drew 19 individual acts by various children’s choirs and popular Christian bands performing various praise and worship songs.
However, for the first time since the annual live Christian concert in Toronto began in 2006, the City of Toronto is banning the event from taking place on public property next year.
Yonge-Dundas Square Manager of Events Natalie Belman told VON Events Coordinator Leve Oyelani that the city would not grant the Christian group a permit to perform on its property in 2016, before suggesting for her to find another location to hold the 2006 Voices of Nations music festival.
“I’ve already advised Peter [Paresh, Director of VON] that we’re not going to be permitting you guys this year for next year because of the proselytizing on the square, and that’s a big issue for us,” Belman explained on October 23, according to a phone transcript of her discussion obtained by LifeSiteNews. Operated by a volunteer Board of Management appointed by the Toronto City Counsel, the square has a $2.3 million budget annually, $400,000 of which is paid by taxpayers.
SOURCE: Michael F. Haverluck