Story from the Justice Center, a law firm:
The Justice Centre is representing Grace Life Church (Grace Life), a large church near Edmonton, and its pastor James Coates. The congregants of Grace Life hold strongly to their religious beliefs regarding the necessity of gathering in-person to worship and to minister to each other through fellowship and corporate prayer and worship, exercising their Charter freedoms peacefully. Alberta Health Services (AHS) has ticketed Pastor Coates, taken Grace Life and Pastor Coates to court, and even attempted to completely shut the Church down.
[…]Restrictions imposed in November and December 2020 through the Orders of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, demanded that churches gather at only 15% of building capacity and that all attendees mask and distance from each other.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw doesn’t like people using their freedom in ways she disapproves of.
Surveillance by bureaucrats and armed police:
AHS officials began in November to show up and inspect the Church weekly. Each Sunday morning—during the worship service—an AHS inspector, often accompanied by law enforcement, demanded entry to the building, went into the sanctuary, and recorded the number of people present and whether they were masked and distanced. This has occurred almost every Sunday for three months, with no regard to how disturbing the presence of an AHS inspector and law enforcement is to congregants of Grace Life.
Normal Christian activities are “illicit and bizarre”, according to the secular left nanny state:
On December 17, 2020, AHS inspector Janine Hanrahan issued an order against Grace Life church (the “December 17 AHS Order”) and publicly posted the Order on the internet, intentionally exposing Grace Life to public contempt. Previously normal, healthy activities such as sitting together and learning, playing instruments and singing, and not covering one’s face, are outlawed and described as if they are illicit and bizarre in the December 17 AHS Order and various AHS inspection reports.
Janine Hanrahan doesn’t like people using their freedom in ways she disapproves of.
On January 21, 2021, AHS filed a court application to enforce through court order the December 17 AHS order, and to be given the power to throw Pastor Coates in jail if he continued to lead Grace Life in normal worship services.
[…]On January 29, AHS issued a Closure Order, purporting to entirely close down Grace Life and prevent any congregants of Grace Life from gathering for in-person worship services at the church building.
[…]On Sunday, February 7, after the morning worship service, two RCMP officers met with Pastor Coates and a few others in his office at the Church. The officers told Pastor Coates that he was under arrest and must agree to stop breaching the CMOH Orders.
[…]Grace Life again gathered for worship on Sunday, February 14 and again an AHS inspector entered the Church and reported the activities of the attendees. RCMP have notified Pastor Coates that they plan to arrest him again on Tuesday, February 16, and bring him before a Justice of the Peace, forcing the court to decide if Pastor Coates will be imprisoned.
Just in case you’re wondering what the score is, in terms of sicknesses and deaths caused by this church compared to caused by government, government is “winning” 1-0:
Grace Life is a church of nearly 400 congregants. Not one has been lost to Covid, but, sadly, a congregant was lost to the Alberta Government lockdown in the first week of February when he died prematurely because he couldn’t get the cancer treatment he needed due to Government restrictions.
It’s not often reported how much damage theses restrictions are doing. Not just in terms of missing health care, but depression, suicide, loneliness, and denying children their educations. Canadians continue to pay taxes to teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, judges, police, etc. but they are not getting their money’s worth. There’s an epidemic of VIOLENT CRIME in cities like Toronto. But all the police in Canada have time for is arresting pastors and shutting down churches.
This is why I support smaller government. When you pay money to these people, they aren’t accountable to do anything for you. Why are Canadians paying government workers first, and taking whatever scraps of liberty they’re allowed to have, after? Don’t live under people like this. Move somewhere where they don’t control you. And don’t marry one of these hysterical, low-information fascists and put them in your house to monitor you.
By the way, in case you’re wondering how the pastor is doing, his wife has posted an update: part 1 and part 2. The police will only release him if he stops pastoring his church. No one, including his own wife, is allowed to see him. Learn from Canada.
By the way, this isn’t the first time that a pastor has been arrested for preaching in Canada. It happens a lot.