Right now there is a major court case dealing with religious liberty and freedom of speech in Toronto, Canada. On June 4, 2019, David Lynn of Christ's Forgiveness Ministries was arrested for preaching the gospel publicly in Toronto, Canada.
In a previous article, I broke the news. He and his team were doing a multi-day evangelism tour throughout locations in Toronto. After evangelizing in other locations throughout the day, they went in the afternoon to an area where many of the LGBT community reside. Not long after, a crowd began to form, and they tried to silence Lynn and force him to leave the area. When the police came, they charged Lynn with disturbing the peace even though the entire incident was video-recorded livestream and there was evidence of people in the crowd becoming angry and violent without any provocation from Lynn or his team.
In both Canada and the United States, we are seeing a constant increase of the silencing of Christians' rights to free speech. Every day, it is becoming clearer that we are living in a post-Christian, Western culture.
This court case is a serious case to be aware of. Many Christians in Western countries do not believe that there will come a time when the freedoms that we presently have and can exercise will be taken away from us right before our eyes. We already have seen lots of instances of the government coming against bakers, photographers and others who were unwilling to participate in gay weddings with extremely high fines and even greater threats of further punishments if there was no compliance. Likewise, we have seen the media demonize Christians for holding to fundamental biblical views.
I recently did an interview with David Lynn to hear his side of the story. My questions and his responses are what follow.
What happened the day of your arrest?
We were on our eighth stop on the third day of our Toronto-wide evangelism tour. All day, we had been going to different locations to share the gospel. The themes of the message I preached throughout the time were "God loves you," "There is hope for you," John 3:16 and "I tolerate you. Would you tolerate me?" At this particular stop, I was arrested and charged with disturbing the peace.
Why do you think people reacted so adversely to it?
Many of those listening, who claimed to also be members of the LGBT community, felt preaching the gospel to them was offensive. However, nothing hateful or offensive was ever said. Anyone can go and watch the entire incident online because it was livestreamed and we still have the unedited livestream posted on our Christ Forgiveness YouTube channel.
Do people have a right to free speech in Canada?
Were you in violation of any laws that day?
No. The laws allow us to preach on the streets.
Do you believe that there is an anti-Christian bias in Toronto?
Yes. Many Christians are being discriminated against for simply being Christian and exercising their Christian faith.
Are there more restraints placed on Christians in Canada than in the past couple of years?
Yes. One example is that Justin Trudeau, our prime minister, limited youth summer program funds to charities that affirm abortion rights. Because of this, it excluded Bible-believing Christians who run summer programs from receiving funding. There is not a change of "legal rights" or rights according to the law. But there is a widespread crackdown on Christians, using a bogus application of the law to try to silence us. There are hate speech laws and laws that pertain to disturbing the peace. Even if we are not being hateful or doing something to disturb the peace, these laws get applied to us, wrongfully. What happens is that authorities use questionable grey area laws like, "Disturbing the peace" or "Mischief" in an attempt to silence us as Christians. So "by the books" we have a right to free speech, but in practicality, we are being silenced. When other groups do the same things we do, or things of a much more radical nature, they are praised by government officials and the media and no one gets arrested. When they actually have hate-speech in their messages or disturb the peace, everyone turns a blind eye.
How has your experience been with media coverage? Are they fair? Balanced?
Very biased against me and against Christianity.
Do you think Christians in Western nations are close to being silenced in the public forum?
Yes. Already this has taken place. Christian media outlets are heavily censured and often not granted the licensing to broadcast their beliefs on public media forums.
Are Christians treated differently than other minority groups in Canada?
100%, yes! We are not allowed to have prayer groups in schools like the Muslims. We don't have a Christian month and are not allowed to place a flag, or cross, on our desks or beside the national flag like the LGBT community is permitted to. Our values are infringed upon in schools, often for the sake of others' "uncomfortableness" with them.
What are the current updates on your court case? Are there ways to support you?
They are not dropping the charges, and they just added another charge to the case, "Mischief." I believe it is because I have been vocal and will not back down so they want to make an example of me. They added this charge against me because someone heard me preaching while eating their dinner and said I was disturbing their meal. You can support by going to christianpositivespace.com.
Though you are in Canada, do you think that American Christians could begin to experience the same kind of persecution here in the United States?
100%, yes! The same thing is happening in the U.S. today, but on a lower scale. If allowed to continue, it will be in full swing in the U.S. soon.
What is one word of encouragement for Christians in Canada and the U.S.? What is one word of caution?
A word of encouragement is that souls are being saved despite the persecution, and many are seeing the hypocrisy in the media and the misapplication of the law against Christians. Despite the persecution, many are rising up and becoming more vocal about Christ. However, I do advise that we as the Christian community should exercise our freedoms and evangelize now while we still have these rights. There is still hope for change, considering that these rights still exist in public records, constitutions and charters. My word of caution, however, is that tough times are ahead, and we must be willing to count the cost. We can no longer fully rely on the visible church to stand up, considering that many churches have become heavily compromised and infiltrated by the enemy to the point that most denominational leaders will not stand up against the present cultural and political current. We have to stand, even if at times we have to stand alone.
David Hoffman is an evangelist and the director of Kingdom Enterprises, an outreach and evangelism ministry in Tucson, Arizona. His passions are to reach the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ, ignite a passion for evangelism within the lives of believers and help equip them to live Spirit-filled and Spirit-empowered lives. For more information or to contact him, please go to HisKingdomEnterprises.
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