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  • Churches Defy Public Health Regulations

    Posted on February 22nd, 2021 admin No comments

    A couple of churches in Alberta have been holding services with packed pews and no masks. This is in clear defiance of public health restrictions that call for “attendance to be capped at 15 per cent of capacity and congregants to practise physical distancing and wear masks,” according to a recent CBC story.

    Pastor James Coates of the GraceLife Church in Parkland County, west of Edmonton, has been charged with contravening Section 73(1) of the Public Health Act after police found the church over capacity on Sunday and people failing to adhere to physical distancing requirements. Twice arrested, he is now refusing to meet bail requirements, choosing instead to stew in jail, perhaps mentally comparing himself to the apostle Paul, likewise jailed for actions resulting from his faith.

    Fairview Baptist Church, south of Calgary, has likewise been defying the regulations. In January, Pastor Tim Stephens was fined $1,200 by Calgary bylaw officers for violating public health orders. But the church has continued to encourage congregants to break rules by holding gatherings larger than allowed capacity and not enforcing the wearing of masks.

    “It is … Jesus Christ, not civil government, that defines what is essential for the gathered church,” Stephens wrote in a blog post on the church’s website on Saturday. “Jesus promises that those who are persecuted for his namesake will be blessed,” said Coates. “He’s the one that blesses, and I’m content to leave that in his court.”

    Parkland GraceLife has a statement on their website (if it doesn’t open, click Notice, at the left of the home page) that explains the reasons behind their decision to operate contrary to the law. They argue that the pandemic is not really a pandemic; that it is not all that dangerous; that the government “cure” of restrictions is worse than the disease itself; that civil liberties are being unnecessarily infringed, etc. The church’s lawyer, James Kitchen, said, “Their first loyalty is to obey their God, not government.”

    Somehow, they overlook this: Romans 13:1-2 says: “Obey the government, for God is the One who has put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power. So those who refuse to obey the law of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow.

    So aren’t these pastors and church boards actually choosing to disobey God and leading their congregations into sin?

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