EDMONTON — The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) asked Alberta Premier Jason Kenney “to rescind the health orders of the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, which unfairly discriminates as between restaurants and houses of worship,” says the press release.
JCCF’s letter concerns Edmonton pastor James Coates of Grace Life Church near Edmonton, Alta.
Coates is currently jailed for exercising his Charter freedoms of conscience, religion, association and peaceful assembly.
He first held a church service on Feb. 7. After that service was held the RCMP presented him with an undertaking to agree to not contravene the public health orders of Dr. Deena Hinshaw by ceasing to hold church as he had been.
Coates did not agree with the undertaking and at that point, the RCMP was supposed to take him immediately before a Justice of the Peace, but they did not do so.
He then held another service on Feb. 14 and the following day the RCMP asked Coates to turn himself in — he did so.
He was charged with contravening public health orders, breaching an undertaking — even though he did not agree with it.
Coates was first arrested on Feb. 7 and then released pending a court appearance on March 31.
His bail hearing was on Feb. 16. The Crown Prosecutor asked the court to keep Pastor Coates in jail until his trial — “which is at least several weeks away,” says JCCF’s press release.
But according to BreitBart.com, a spokesman for the Mounties said the pastor has been given a second court appearance for next Wednesday, Feb. 24.
The Justice of the Peace order stated that he be released on the condition that he would halt church services — which he in good conscience couldn’t agree to.
The letter is also challenging Premier Kenney to assume responsibility for protecting the Charter rights and freedoms of Albertans and to stop the Chief Medical Officer from violating them through health orders that are not reviewed by, or approved by the elected members of the legislative assembly.
Coates is currently in jail, awaiting trial as he will not be released unless he agrees to the conditions of his bail — or the Prosecutor agrees to withdrawal the condition.
Pastor Coates reasoning to stay open
On the government’s intrusion into the church – “I think you know obviously living in the pandemic, the so-called pandemic all the way along your gathering data, you’re evaluating theological convictions, your thinking differently – we’ve never had to think about any of these issues before we’ve never had to question the corporate gathering we’ve never had the government reaching this far inside the walls of our church.”
The pastor continued;
“When everything first hits we reluctantly comply, but we’re looking at Romans 13, we’re looking at Hebrews 10 and it’s pretty superficial at that point in time and we’re not dialled in on our legal system so we don’t know what’s going on from that perspective. But over time we begin to wrestle through this thing. I preach a sermon on Romans 13 titled putting the government in its place and that was when I preached you know a typical sermon on Romans 13 it was a passionate sermon but it addressed the reality that persecution is not the threshold that must be met for the church to practice civil disobedience – the issue is when it becomes a matter of obeying God or obeying man.”
Romans 13 says:
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
Pastor James Coates’s thoughts on Romans 13 echo that of another Canadian Pastor who remained open in the face of lockdown orders from the Canadian government.
When discussing Romans 13, Pastor Jacob Reaume of Trinity Bible Chapel near Kitchener, Ontario echoed Pastor Coates thoughts:
“In such cases when government edicts contradict God’s commands, Christians must obey God over government.“ Pastor Reaume also believes that Christians are commanded to gather at least once a week on Sundays as a church to worship God through song and prayer.
Pastor Coate’s thoughts on increased Covid enforcement late in “pandemic”
When speaking about Alberta’s Covid statistics before his arrest with CROSSPOLITIC Pastor Coate’s had this to say:
“It’s amazing too if you think about it because we’re nearly at the 12 month mark. Our case numbers in Alberta are going down and yet the enforcements going up. I mean we’ve been open for 29 Sundays. So for 29 Sundays we’ve been open and now potentially ending the 30th I’m looking at arrest. I mean that’s strange a year into a pandemic that we have all this information, all this data, numbers are going down and the enforcement is going up – that is, that is eery.”
So while we have big box stores like Costco, Wal-Mart, Canadian Tire, and liquor and weed store open – Pastor James Coate’s of Grace Life Church near Edmonton, Alta sits in a prison cell because he won’t agree to the conditions of his release – which state that he won’t hold Church gatherings. This goes against Pastor Coates conscience and therefore he sits in prison for following his convictions until the conditions of release are changed or he agrees to them.
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