In Edmonton, Canada there is a pastor, James Coates, who was arrested for holding services against Covid mandates.
An inspector for AHS (Alberta Health Services) issued an order against the pastor’s church, GraceLife, telling them to enforce Covid guidelines back in December. In January AHS decided to take it to court. The filing specifies that it has the authority to jail the pastor if he didn’t listen. Later in the month another order was issued demanding that the church be closed until it followed the orders.
After being visited by the Mounted Police this month, James turned himself in. Mike Lokken and inspector had this to say on the situation. “We’ve been consistent in our approach of escalated levels of enforcement with Pastor Coates, and we were hopeful to resolve this issue in a different manner,”. “The Pastor’s actions, and the subsequent effects those actions could have on the health and safety of citizens, dictated our response in this situation.”
The staff of the church gave a statement, here is an excerpt, “Having engaged in an immense amount of research, interacting with both doctors and frontline healthcare workers, it is apparent that the negative effects of the government lockdown measures on society far surpass the effects of COVID-19. The science being used to justify lockdown measures is both suspect and selective. In fact, there is no empirical evidence that lockdowns are effective in mitigating the spread of the virus. We are gravely concerned that COVID-19 is being used to fundamentally alter society and strip us all of our civil liberties. By the time the so-called ‘pandemic’ is over, if it is ever permitted to be over, Albertans will be utterly reliant on government, instead of free, prosperous, and independent,”
James’s lawyer, James Kitchen, a lawyer with The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, had this to say, “The congregants of Grace Life refuse to accept the Alberta Government’s dystopian ‘new normal.’ Their first loyalty is to obey their God, not government. They are committed to gathering, as they always have, for in-person worship services. They will challenge this excessive and unlawful government oppression rather than turn their back on their beliefs. They also believe they are lawfully exercising their Charter-protected freedoms and that the Government’s restrictions are not justifiable.
Governments never destroy civil liberties without pointing to some reason that sounds good, such as ‘safety’ or ‘equality.’ The very reason certain rights and freedoms are protected by the Charter is so that government cannot simply ignore those rights by merely asserting its actions are for a good cause. By continuing to exercise their Charter rights, despite the potentially dramatic consequences, Grace Life and Pastor Coates and bringing democratic accountability to bear on a government that appears indifferent to the societal harms of lockdowns and the dismantling of civil liberties.”