Canadian pastor arrested after violating COVID-19 rules; refuses bail conditions

Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, was arrested during the week for disregarding the COVID-19 rules of Alberta. He has been in custody for the past five days after refusing to meet his bail conditions.

For three consecutive weeks, Pastor Coates held services after the church was mandated to halt its gatherings at the end of January. The reason was that it reportedly disobeyed the restrictions placed on the maximum number of persons permitted in its gatherings. Also, CTV News Edmonton reported that the church violated the rules of social distancing.

Previously, Coates was arrested after he conducted services for the second time. This arrest came with charges of allegedly breaching the Public Health Act. However, he was released after he was given some bail conditions.

Last Sunday, February 14, health officials and the police visited the church and discovered that the pastor is still defying his bail conditions. Hence, he was re-arrested and charges were made against him.

On Tuesday, Coates went to the police himself. The Edmonton Journal stated that the pastor got charges of two counts. The first count was for going against the Public Health Act and the second count was for refusing to adhere to the condition of his initial release.

In a statement released by the police on Wednesday, they said that they decided to attend the service of GraceLife Church to observe its compliance of the law. However, with the assessment, evidences showed that the pastor is still disobeying the law. Also, he is not obeying the conditions of his release. Hence, he was rearrested.

The attorney of Coates, James Kitchen, who works with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, stated that the first obedience of his client is to his Lord and his God. Besides, obeying Jesus and the government go side-by-side. However, the government is forcing him to choose whether to obey the government and disobey God, or disobey government and obey God.

In response to the arrest, the church admitted that they complied with the government’s rule when it first put physical church gathering on hold. They relied on online services. But when there was a lift in the health emergency, the church began to hold physical services.

The church added that its decision to gather physically for service was not to be stubborn to the government’s law. Rather, it is a decision to obey Jesus, their Lord and Savior.

Furthermore, GraceLife Church affirmed that people were afraid and made to believe the government’s lockdown rule was the best for them because the mainstream media made it so. Hence, the people have decided to give up their civil liberties to the government because they feel it is for their best interest.

So far, about 129,000 people have contacted COVID-19 in Alberta. This is less than 3% of the population of Alberta. Nevertheless, the church opined that more than 99% of people who have tested positive to the virus will recover from it.

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