An Alberta church has been shut down and fenced off for persevering with to carry providers in defiance of the province’s COVID-19 public well being restrictions.
On April 7, Alberta Well being Companies closed GraceLife Church and had police and safety employees put up metallic fencing across the constructing to forestall individuals from getting into.
The Edmonton church will stay closed till it “can reveal the power to adjust to Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Well being’s (CMOH) restrictions,” stated AHS in an announcement launched the identical day.
AHS stated there have been 105 complaints concerning the church since final July.
“With COVID-19 circumstances growing and the extra easily-transmitted and doubtlessly extra extreme variants turning into dominant, there’s pressing want to reduce unfold to guard all Albertans.”
Please pray for us
Police and safety are placing up a fence round Gracelife! Please pray for knowledge as our elders navigate this new growth! @tomascol @TomBuck @MichelleDLesley @Aspree_Berean @D_B_Harrison @TobyLogsdon @DrOakley1689 @MikeHovland pic.twitter.com/SD45qnppqz
— Curtis Serben (@curtis_serben) April 7, 2021
GraceLife caught the eye of the Alberta authorities when it hosted extra individuals than the 15 p.c restrict mandated for religion providers within the province. In December 2020, AHS fined the church $1,200 for violating public well being restrictions.
AHS issued a closure order in January, however the church’s pastor James Coates continued holding providers, and on Feb. 7, the RCMP informed him he can be arrested. Coates turned himself in on Feb. 16.
Coates was charged with a number of Public Well being Act offences and a prison offence associated to bail situations imposed on Feb. 7. He remained in custody within the Edmonton Remand Centre when he refused to conform together with his situations of launch to not maintain providers. Tons of of protesters rallied exterior the jail on Feb. 20 to indicate their help for Coates and “standing for non secular and Constitution freedoms.”
On March 22, after a month in jail, the pastor was launched when Crown prosecutors agreed to withdraw all however one cost towards him. Nevertheless, he was fined $1,500 for breaching bail.
Officers stated Coates didn’t cease holding Sunday providers after his launch. He and the church nonetheless face one depend every of violating public well being measures and had been scheduled to go to trial in Could.
In a public statement posted to its web site in February, GraceLife defined why the church continued opening for its congregants.
“Having engaged in an immense quantity of analysis, interacting with each docs and frontline healthcare staff, it’s obvious that the destructive results of the federal government lockdown measures on society far surpass the results of COVID-19,” the assertion stated.
“The science getting used to justify lockdown measures is each suspect and selective. In actual fact, there isn’t a empirical proof that lockdowns are efficient in mitigating the unfold of the virus.”
“We’re gravely involved that COVID-19 is getting used to essentially alter society and strip us all of our civil liberties,” the church added.
AHS has not stated if there have been COVID-19 outbreaks at GraceLife as a result of their providers. The church stated it had two circumstances final summer season, however no circumstances recognized after that.
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which represents Coates and GraceLife, said it’s outraged that the Alberta authorities entered a non-public church and erected metallic fencing across the constructing.
“Freedom of conscience and faith is the primary elementary freedom listed within the Canadian Constitution of Rights and Freedoms. It’s listed first as a result of it is among the key bedrock ideas on which Canada is constructed,” Justice Centre President John Carpay stated in an announcement Wednesday.
“The federal government has thus far refused to justify the bounds on worship and gathering.”
The Justice Centre stated it’s within the technique of submitting a subpoena to require Alberta’s CMOH Dr. Deena Hinshaw to testify on the trial of Pastor Coates.