Christians Have Civil Rights Too

October 31, 2019 Updated: October 31, 2019

Commentary

Toronto Pastor David Lynn has been making waves worldwide in the Christian community. He’s a well-known street preacher on the streets of Canada who has gained a large following on social media sites such as YouTube and Facebook.

After being arrested while preaching the gospel in an LGBT neighborhood in Toronto, Pastor David is facing yet another brazen attack on his right to freedom of expression.

Back in early June, Pastor David set off on a tour of 22 districts of the city of Toronto to share the gospel. When the 39-year-old minister arrived at a public intersection in an area that is heavily populated by members of the LGBT community, he was accused of hate speech. The pastor denied the accusations.

Although the entire tour was streamed live on Facebook and the pastor was never shown to be disrespectful or condemnatory toward any particular group of people, he was arrested by the police.

“I didn’t know this was the start of the pride month. … I didn’t say anything specific to the LGBTQ community; it’s all on livestream,” Pastor David explained.

“It’s unfortunate that I am subject to this kind of discrimination and bullying and marginalization simply for saying God loves you, there is hope for you, I accept you and tolerate you. I shouldn’t be in this position. I didn’t do anything illegal.”

The pastor said that he was assaulted during the encounter, but police at the scene refused to hear about his complaint. He also claimed that the arrest was illegal, and he felt singled out, discriminated against for being a Christian.

Regardless, Pastor David has been charged with “disturbing the peace” and “mischief.” He has not been charged with hate speech.

The minister has been in and out of court six times in relation to the incident. He was told that it would likely be a five-day trial. The story had gained national and worldwide attention because of its involvement with the LGBT community.

It wasn’t the first time that Pastor David had had a run in with the law. In his 22 years of preaching, he had never had an issue until March 2018 while in London, UK. He was arrested after a homosexual woman claimed he was being offensive and homophobic as she walked by him street preaching. The woman called the police and David was arrested.

The police never questioned the pastor regarding his side of the story before his arrest, according to the Christian Legal Service, a UK-based organization that provided legal representation. In custody, the minister was interviewed for 20 hours regarding the event. He denied the accusations that he had called the woman “perverse” and “sinful.”

The officers later admitted that they had wrongfully arrested the pastor. “They expressed regret that he had been held for so long, and recognized that his right to freedom of expression should have been better protected,” the  Christian Legal Service wrote.

‘Civil Rights for Christians’

Pastor David didn’t take his most recent arrest and charges lightly. On Sept. 28, he held a rally in Toronto called “Civil Rights for Christians.” He described the event as non-confrontational and not targeting any specific group.

Some of the slogans chanted during the rally were, “God so loves the world that He gave his one and only begotten Son,” “Civil rights are for Christians too,” and, “These are our streets too.” The congregation mentioned the importance of prayer and the need to draw closer to God during a time when so many Christians worldwide are having their rights infringed upon.

They walked peacefully through the streets of Toronto alongside hundreds of Christians who showed up on a rainy day to show support for the pastor and the civil rights of all Christians.

During the rally, there was a counter-protest held by the LGBT community and thousands of its supporters. Many of Toronto’s politicians came out to support the LGBT community, including Toronto Mayor John Tory and Toronto city councilors. They took the side of the pro-LGBT supporters while opposing the enclave of Christians.

No one was hurt or injured, and no arrests were made. Nevertheless, police prevented Pastor David and his supporters from marching up Church Street as planned because of the counter-protest.

“Certain members of the community have advantages over others. Some groups are more protected than others. When they make a complaint, it is taken more seriously,” said Pastor David during a phone interview. It’s hard to deny the accuracy of that statement.

A few days after the rally, Pastor David received an email from a Toronto city official who is responsible for managing recreation centers in Toronto. The official stated that the pastor was recently involved in activities that violated their hate speech policies. Therefore, the minister’s lease was “immediately revoked,” and his congregation could no longer rent any of the city of Toronto facilities ever again.

“For the last year we have been renting a Toronto facility so that our church could meet and have church services,” explained Pastor David. “No notice. No warning. No month notice that the church needs to leave. We were thrown out onto the streets by a Toronto city official. Christians are being discriminated [against] and bullied. Where are our civil rights?!”

Pastor David has raised over $52,000 in crowd-funding for his legal defense fund and is also raising money to purchase a building in downtown Toronto.

Anna Khait was born in the Soviet Union. She is a born-again Christian conservative, an outspoken anti-communist, political commentator, and public speaker. She currently works as a New York real estate agent.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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