TORONTO, November 21, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Pastor David Lynn is scrambling to find a home in downtown Toronto for his congregation after the city abruptly kicked his missionary church out of a municipal recreation center for alleged “hate activity.”
The founder of Christ’s Forgiveness Ministries received an email October 10 from Aydin Sarrafzadeh, manager of aquatics, “immediately” revoking his permit at the Pam McConnell Aquatic Centre.
“It has … come to our attention that most recently you have been involved in activities that are in violation of the City’s Hate Activity policy,” Sarrafzadeh wrote.
“Please be advised that you are not permitted to book space at any City of Toronto facility.”
Being summarily evicted from a center he’s used for over a year isn’t Lynn’s only problem. The charismatic pastor was arrested June 4 after an LGBT crowd mobbed him as he preached at Church and Wellesley, in the heart of Toronto’s “gay” village, and released after a night behind bars on bail conditions barring him from “Pride” events and the homosexual district.
Lynn was ultimately charged with disturbing the peace and mischief, although police initially said they were looking into a “hate speech” charge.
“I didn’t say anything derogatory,” he told LifeSiteNews.
“I basically said, ‘God loves you, God’s calling you, there’s hope for you’. I got arrested on allegations of hate speech, but there was clearly no hate speech. And so they came up with this bogus charge of disturbing the peace.”
Despite rallies, court dates, 30,000 people signing a Citizen Go petition on his behalf, and $50,000 in legal bills, the charges stuck, and a five-day trial is set for July-August 2020.
Lynn then decided to hold a “freedom rally” on September 28 at the southern part of Church Street to mobilize the Christian community.
“I just don’t feel it’s right that anyone should get arrested for exercising their freedom of speech in any part of Toronto on a public sidewalk,” he said.
Things got intense after lesbian councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and LGBTQ activist 519 Community Centre organized a counter-rally, which Mayor John Tory promoted and attended.
Tory told CTV News he couldn’t legally stop Lynn’s event, but wanted to show he was against it.
“When there is a threat, when there are people our promoting division and polarization and stigmatization against the LGBTQ community or anybody else, I think it’s my job to stand up and say no, that’s not the way we live here, that’s not what we’re about in Toronto,” Tory said.
But Lynn has a vastly different view of what took place.
“They literally brought out about 200 police officers, SWAT team, everything,” he told LifeSiteNews.
His group “prayed, we looked at ourselves introspectively as a Christian community[.] … And then we were going to peacefully walk up Church Street, just singing praise unto the Lord,” Lynn said.
But “we were blocked” by the Toronto Police, SWAT, and Antifa in a seven-hour standoff.
Moreover, “all the media just wrote me off as bad,” Lynn observed. “They just painted this picture that I’m this hate speech guy[.] … We said over and over, we love the LGBT community, this is not targeted at them.”
Ten days later, Lynn got the email from Sarrafzadeh.
He called up the aquatics manager to ask how he had violated the hate activity policy, and Sarrafzadeh referred to the rally, Lynn said.
“If our rally was hateful, then why wasn’t I arrested? And I mean, I was in my rights to have a rally and it’s a freedom of speech rally,” he said.
Nor did the matter stay there.
Councillor Wong-Tam tabled a motion October 29 for a review of booking rules for Toronto’s facilities that asks that “LGBTQ+ stakeholders” be consulted.
She referred to Lynn’s rally when arguing for the motion, as well the fury over Canadian feminist Meghan Murphy, who is critical of gender ideology, speaking at a public library.
Council approved the motion to review by a 20-to-1 vote, and is expected to consider the revised booking policies in January.
Lynn, however, has launched a petition against motion as “blatant in your face discrimination.”
“We are being discriminated against. We’re being bullied. We’re being told we’re not welcome,” he says in a video exhorting Christians to wake up.
“That should bother you,” adds Lynn. “I shouldn’t have to sit at the back of the bus because I’m a Christian.”
Nor should he have to hold his church services “in the park outside in the cold,” as he did for three weeks after the eviction, until finding a temporary refuge near Yonge and Dundas.
His interim landlords are “not certain that they’re going to give us long-term rental, so we have until the end of the month,” Lynn said. “We don’t even know what to do. We don’t have a permanent place.”
He is now determined to buy a facility for his church in Toronto’s downtown core, but in one of the most brutally expensive real-estate markets in Canada, as Lynn notes on his website, that will take a miracle.
Ironically, when Christ’s Forgiveness Ministries operated out of Pam McConnell, “we actually have many members of the LGBT community visit frequently and come looking for help from our ministry,” he told LifeSiteNews.
“We’ve never had any problems.”