Christian group voices displeasure over treatment by Yonge-Dundas Square management
TORONTO - Dozens gathered in Yonge-Dundas Square on a cold rainy Saturday to protest discrimination against Christians.
Organized by Stop Bullying Christians Now, the rally brought around 100 protesters to show support for Voices of the Nations, a group that says it has been denied an event permit to host a Christian music concert in the square next year.
Peter Ruparelia, founding directer at VOTN, said the concert has taken place at Yonge-Dundas Square since 2010. This year’s concert was in August. By October, the non-profit organization applied for a permit for their 2016 concert.
That’s when things went downhill, according to Ruparelia, who said a manager rejected their permit application and said they had been “proselytizing,” an action banned under the square’s performance policy.
“Basically she said that one of our performers was singing ... ‘There’s no god like Jehovah’ over and over again and I guess to them that’s proselytizing,” Ruparelia said. “So that’s one of the reasons why they don’t want to give us a permit for next year.”
The group intends on appealing the decision at a committee meeting at city hall on Dec. 10.
Janique Dacres said she attended a VOTN concert for the first time this year.
“Nobody was saying ‘Oh you have to do this’ or ‘You have to do that ‘ or ‘Come to the front, we’ll pray for you,’” the 27-year-old pointed out. “Nobody said that. It was song group after song group after song group after song group.”
At the rally on Saturday, people chanted “We are Christians! All the time Christians!” and waved placards with the words “Stop Bullying Christians Now.”
Rally organizer David Lynn said they weren’t there to put any other group down.
“We’re here simply to make sure that Christians also have fair treatment like anybody else,” Lynn said.
您都有今日 之二 Cinemas refuse to show Church of England advert featuring Lord's Prayer
The UK’s three leading cinema chains have refused to show an advert by the Church of England that features the Lord’s Prayer, citing fears that it could offend people.
Richard Dawkins says UK cinemas should screen the Lord's Prayer
The 60-second advert was due to be shown before Star Wars: the Force Awakens, released on 18 December and which has smashed records for advance ticket sales at UK cinemas.
It was cleared by the Cinema Advertising Authority and the British Board of Film Classification, but the Odeon, Cineworld and Vue chains – which control 80% of screens around the country – have refused to show the advert because they believe it “carries the risk of upsetting, or offending, audiences”.
The church warned that the move could have a “chilling effect on free speech” and said it was at a loss to understand the logic behind the decision.
Arun Arora, director of communications for the Church of England, said: “The prospect of a multigenerational cultural event offered by the release of Star Wars: the Force Awakens on 18 December – a week before Christmas Day – was too good an opportunity to miss and we are bewildered by the decision of the cinemas.
“The Lord’s Prayer is prayed by billions of people across the globe every day and in this country has been part of everyday life for centuries. Prayer permeates every aspect of our culture from pop songs and requiems to daily assemblies and national commemorations. For millions of people in the United Kingdom, prayer is a constant part of their lives whether as part thanksgiving and praise, or as a companion through their darkest hours.
“In one way the decision of the cinemas is just plain silly but the fact that they have insisted upon it makes it rather chilling in terms of limiting free speech. There is still time for the cinemas to change their mind and we would certainly welcome that.”
The advert is to promote a new Church of England website, JustPray.uk, encouraging people to pray.
The film shows Christians saying one line of the Lord’s Prayer, including weightlifters, a police officer, a commuter, refugees in a support centre, schoolchildren, a mourner at a graveside, a festivalgoer and the archbishop of Canterbury.
JustPray.uk provides guidance on what prayer is and how to pray. It also provides a live feed of prayers across the globe via Twitter, Instagram and Vine.
Banning the Lord’s Prayer from cinemas is nonsense on stilts
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Digital Cinema Media, which handles most cinema advertising in the UK, told Arora it has “a policy not to run advertising connected to personal beliefs, specifically those related to politics or religion. Our members have found that showing such advertisements carries the risk of upsetting, or offending, audiences.”
DCM added that it had received “considerable negative feedback from audiences” to adverts from both sides in the lead up to the Scottish independence referendum.
Arora said: “People should visit the site, see the film themselves and make up their own minds as to whether they are upset or offended by it.”