Christians Declare Victory as Toronto's Attempt to Ban Music Festival Fails

"Stop Bullying Christians Now" rally that took place in Toronto, Canada, on November 21, 2015. | (Photo: christsforgiveness Youtube screencap)

Christian festival organizers have successfully won their battle to have an event held in Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square after officials argued the festival would be a violation of the city's public space policy.

Officials in Toronto had previously sought to ban the annual Voices of the Nations music festival in the square, arguing that the event's Christian theme amounted to proselytizing on public property.

While organizers for the festival initially planned to take the ban to court, they managed to reach an agreement with Yonge-Dundas Square management regarding the upcoming festival, set to be held on Aug. 1.

The contents of that agreement have recently been finalized, Voices of the Nations' director Peter Ruparelia told LifeSite News on Thursday. 

"I believe it's a victory for all Christians," Ruparelia told the media outlet.

After multiple discussions, the agreement states that the concert may freely reference God and Jesus and engage in prayer as long as this religious expression is done during the performance, LifeSite News reports.

Ruparelia said in a statement posted to the Voices of the Nations' website that the victory is "bittersweet," as the square's new policies still infringe upon the religious freedom rights of Christans.

"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.

"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," the event director added.

Soon after the city denied the concert's request for a permit in Yonge-Dundas Square, the Rev. Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, commented in a November Facebook post: "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." 

"Jesus is the only name by which we must be saved. The Bible says: 'Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him THE NAME THAT IS ABOVE EVERY NAME, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in Heaven and on Earth and under the Earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).' Wake up Christians, before it's too late," Graham added.

The Voices of the Nations describes its mission as "[providing] a venue and [uniting] the various denominations, cultures and the outstanding talents within the Christian community," as well as "[embracing] and [celebrating] the wonderful diversity in the city."

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