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Freedom of Religion

Christians frustrated as Toronto delays ruling over ban on Jesus' name in public square

A Christian organization banned from Yonge-Dundas Square because of alleged proselytizing has been left in limbo until February following its Thursday appeal to the square's management board.

Voices of the Nations asked the board to repeal events manager Natalie Belman's October decision to deny the Christian group a permit to use the square for its sixth consecutive summer music festival.

Belman had contended that Christian songs sung during the event violated the board's policy against proselytizing in the square. "If you're praising Jesus, 'praise the Lord,' and 'there's no God like Jehovah,' that type of thing, that's proselytizing," she said in a recorded conversation with VOTN's Leye Oyelami.

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City of Toronto agrees to hear appeal from group banned from city square for singing about Jesus

The City of Toronto has agreed to hear an appeal from a Christian group after it was banned last month from using a prominent downtown square for its annual musical festival on account of musicians singing about Jesus.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, the legal group representing Voices of the Nations, will make the appeal to the square’s Board of Management December 10 at Toronto City Hall.

Wynna Brown, manager of media relations and issues management for the City of Toronto, told LifeSiteNews that the appeal process exists for "applicants that do not meet the guidelines, or disagree with permit decisions."

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Belfast Pastor on Trial for Offending Islam

An evangelical Christian pastor in Northern Ireland has made his first court appearance after he was charged with making "grossly offensive" remarks about Islam.

James McConnell, 78, appeared at Laganside Magistrates Court in Belfast on August 6, after local Muslims complained that he delivered a sermon in which he described Islam as "heathen" and "satanic."

According to Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service (PPS), McConnell - whose sermon was streamed live on the Internet - violated the 2003 Communications Act by "sending, or causing to be sent, by means of a public electronic communications network, a message or other matter that was grossly offensive."

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Toronto bans music festival from city square over Christian songs

The City of Toronto is refusing to grant a Christian group a permit to use a prominent downtown square for its annual musical festival next year, because the city has decided that singing the name of Jesus in the public venue contravenes city policy against "proselytizing."

Voices of the Nations (VON) has been using city property since 2006 for an annual "multi denominational" event in which it celebrates Christianity through live music and dance. It has been using the Yonge-Dundas Square without issue for the past five years. This year's August 1 event attracted 19 different performance acts, including children's choirs and popular Christian bands, where well-known 'praise-and-worship' songs such as "Days Of Elijah" are performed.

When VON's Events Coordinator Leye Oyelani contacted the Square's Manager of Events Natalie Belman last week by phone to apply for next year's permit, he was told that a permit would not be issued and to look for a venue elsewhere.

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Teens fired after asking for day off to celebrate religious holiday awarded $26,000 by human rights tribunal

A pair of Ontario teenagers will soon collect thousands of dollars after their employer fired them for observing a religious holiday.

The province's human rights tribunal ruled that vegetable grower Country Herbs discriminated against the young siblings on the basis of their creed.

The tribunal heard and accepted evidence that the teens, identified only by their initials, provided several weeks of notice that they planned to take the day off to celebrate a holiday that was important to their Christian Mennonite faith.

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