By Victor Ochieng
The organizers of a Christian festival have every reason to smile after they received a go ahead to hold their festival at the Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto. City officials planned not to allow the event to take place, arguing it violates policies guiding the use of public spaces.
According to Toronto city officials, allowing the annual Voice of the Nations music festival to take place at the public square would be tantamount to proselytizing on public space, pointing out the event’s Christian theme.
Organizers of the event had considered seeking court redress, but managed to come to a workable agreement with the management of Yonge-Dundas over the use of the space for the festival slated for August 1, 2016.
Peter Ruparelia, the director of Voices of the Nations, revealed that the contents of the said agreement have recently been ironed out.
Speaking to LifeSite News on Thursday, Ruparelia said: “I believe it’s a victory for all Christians.”
LifeSite News reported that part of the agreement with the management is that the event can go ahead and reference both Jesus and God and conduct prayer provided it all happens during the performance.
Although the agreement presents triumph on the part of Christians, Ruparelia, through a statement posted on their website, said their victory is “bittersweet,” pointing out that the new policies outlined by the square are still an infringement on the rights of Christians.
“The victory is bittersweet, because though we’ve received the permit, glory to God, the conditions that have been outlined, though to a lesser degree, still violates our rights and freedoms as citizens of this great country.” Ruparelia said.
He went on to say, “I just want to thank everyone who stood by us for the last few months. Everyone that prayed, signed the petition, rallied, and gave financially; thank you. Together we are strong and we will continue to stand and fight for the name of Jesus.”
After the city officials denied Voice of the Nations permit to hold the event at the square, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Rev. Franklin Graham did a Facebook post saying, “”Can you imagine? The city of Toronto, in Ontario, Canada, has banned an annual Christian music festival. Why? Because they sing about Jesus Christ! Oh really? I hope Canadian Christians will stand up and let their voice be heard.”
Even with the victory, it’s highly likely that the organizers of the event, possibly supported by other Christians, will revisit the issue to find a way of revising the policies.