In March of 2020, the government asked Canadian Pastors to give them three weeks to “flatten the curve” Churches all closed and respected the government wishes. At the end of the three weeks, the government added three more weeks. This became a pattern as week after week the churches remained closed
By May 2020, a few churches began to speak out against the closed churches. Although all the churches remained closed a few pastors were demanding that the government allow the churches to open. A few churches started to meet in parking lots. The pastors of these churches were ticked by police.
Each province had a different set of rules. By July most of the provincial governments were allowing churches to be open. However, the congregations had to be limited to a small percentage of the congregation, and everyone who attended needed to be registered so Health Canada could track down everyone who attended if someone tested positive for the virus.
A handful of churches across Canada refused to obey and opened the church without registration. But most churches followed the rules set out by the government.
In December, more churches stated publicly they would not be closing the doors. By the end of the month churches in most of the provinces were told to close.
Police began to visit the churches, speaking to the pastors, or standing at the doors to intimidate people who were walking into the churches.
The police however can not legally stop a religious service from happening. This is the criminal Code of Canada.
- 176 (1) Every person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years or is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction who
- (a) by threats or force, unlawfully obstructs or prevents or endeavours to obstruct or prevent an officiant from celebrating a religious or spiritual service or performing any other function in connection with their calling, or
- (b) knowing that an officiant is about to perform, is on their way to perform or is returning from the performance of any of the duties or functions mentioned in paragraph (a)
- (i) assaults or offers any violence to them, or
- (ii) arrests them on a civil process, or under the pretence of executing a civil process.
- Marginal note: Disturbing religious worship or certain meetings
(2) Everyone who wilfully disturbs or interrupts an assemblage of persons met for religious worship or for a moral, social or benevolent purpose is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
- Marginal note: Idem
(3) Everyone who, at or near a meeting referred to in subsection (2), wilfully does anything that disturbs the order or solemnity of the meeting is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
Because the police can not legally stop services, they began to visit the pastors, and elders during the week to ticket them. Pastors were handed fines and threatened with jail time.
Then in February of this year, Pastor James Coates, from Grace Life Church was sent to prison for refusing to close his church. He spent 35 days in prison. His elders preached in his pulpit while he was in prison. As soon as he was released, he returned to his pulpit and continued to preach.
Over Easter, Calgary police tried to enter the Church of Pastor Artur Pawlowski. Artur who grew up under communist rule in Poland kicked the Police out of the church calling them Nazi Scum in a video that went viral.
More pastors are starting to stand up and refuse to keep the doors of their church closed. Because the police can not enter and stop a service, they have come up with another solution.
April 07th the police arrived at Grace Life Church. A large fence was put up surrounding the church building. The government had seized the church.
The Canadian church is under attack. We must pray for Canadian church leaders to have courage.