A Canadian pastor has been jailed for holding church services. Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church has been thrown in jail for holding church services in person, violating Canadian public health restrictions.
The Alberta, Canada church was found to be non-compliant with COVID restrictions. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, these restrictions order congregants to socially distance, wear masks, and not gather with more than 15% of the church body at once. In the United States, the Supreme Court ruled against such restrictions on churches as a violation of religious freedom.
Members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Alberta Health Service attended service at GraceLife on Sunday, in order to enforce compliance with public health orders. These officials allege that the church was not following health orders set forward by the government.
Consequently, Pastor Coates was arrested. The RCMP issued the following news release, in which they laid out the way in which Pastor Coates was arrested:
“On Feb. 16, 2021, the pastor turned himself in to the Parkland Detachment. He was charged in contravention of the Public Health Act (x2), and charged for failing to comply with a condition of his Undertaking, under the Criminal Code. Following a bail hearing before a Justice of the Peace, Coates was to be released on conditions. He remained in custody overnight after refusing to agree to those conditions.”
The statement went on, “We’ve been consistent in our approach of escalated levels of enforcement with this pastor, and we were hopeful to resolve this issue in a different manner.”
The spokeswoman for Alberta Health Services, Angela Unsworth, commented to the Edmonton Journal. She threatened GraceLife with additional punishment for continued non-compliance: “The GraceLife Church is required to pay fines previously issued by the RCMP and may be subjected to additional penalties imposed by law enforcement or the courts for continued non-compliance.”
Upon his arrest, Pastor Coates was allegedly brought before a judge who offered freedom, if only he would agree to certain “conditions.” Coates declined these conditions, and as a consequence, he remains in jail. His lawyer, James Kitchen, explained that the pastor would not violate his conscience, regardless of potential consequences from the government. Kitchen spoke to the CBC, stating, “And they are not going to cease worshipping God as they believe they have been commanded to do, simply because the government says so.”
Governments are instituted among men in order to preserve the natural law. A government hostile to these ends is a tyranny, which violates the very law of nature set forth by God himself. The American people must stand against violations of human rights abroad, lest they finally come home to the United States. As once said by President Ronald Reagan, “If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.”