Canadian Authorities Keep Pastor Coates in Custody Till He Bows To Their Rule

Canadian Pastor, James Coates of GraceLife Church, Edmonton, will stay in police custody for some months after his arrest on February 16. The reason for his arrest was because his church held physical church services against the government’s order. According to the authorities, he won’t be released until he agrees to operate his church the way they want him to.

The Edmonton Journal reports that Pastor Coates was taken to the Edmonton Remand Centre after his arrest for supposedly breaching the COVID-19 rules which included not implementing social distancing, not wearing of face masks, and assembling people outside the maximum 15 percent capacity for indoor services.

The Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench, Justice Peter Michalyshyn, ruled on March 5 that Coates will stay at the correctional facility because he did not sign a release form stating that he would abide by stipulated health orders.

However, Coates has released a statement to this effect. He said the health orders do not align with the authority of the local church, and the supreme authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.

His attorney, James Kitchen, said the action by the pastor and his church "is not about just wantonly rebelling. It is about doing what is intelligent to them and what maintains their freedoms, but most importantly what is ultimately honoring to their God that they believe in. And they are not going to cease worshipping God as they believe they have been commanded to do, simply because the government says so.’’

In addition, a notification on the church's website said that when information about the virus was first released, it followed the COVID-19 restriction. GraceLife relied on virtual services but went back to physical services on Sunday, June 21st, 2020, when restrictions were lifted.

Although their pastor is still in custody, GraceLife has not stopped to hold physical services for its members. The church made a statement on its website that read;
"Churches should open, businesses should open, families and friends should come together around meals, and people should begin to exercise their civil liberties again. Otherwise we may not get them back. In fact, some say we are on the cusp of reaching the point of no return. Protect the vulnerable, exercise reasonable precautions, but begin to live your lives again."

Before Pastor Coates was arrested, he said that his actions are in accordance with God’s commandments which have been set by our Lord and Savior. He added that it is not in his place to decide if he is going through persecution or not. Nevertheless, he is confident that there are blessings for those who go through persecution.

His trial has been slated from May 3-5 in the Alberta Provincial Court.

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