Friday, June 11, 2021

Canadian Health Authorities Close Church After Jailing Pastor

Christian pastor who spent time in jail for defying COVID rules has his church doors shut by health authorities

 Anthony Murdoch

Health authorities in the Canadian province of Alberta forcibly closed the doors to a Christian church that remained open contrary to local COVID-19 health rules.  

On June 5, Fairview Baptist Church, located in Calgary, said in a Facebook post, “Early this morning, AHS (Alberta Health Services) seized our church building by changing the locks to prevent us from entering the premises.”

The post continued, “They can take the building but they cannot take the church. 

“In the same week where our most senior government officials were photographed flouting health orders, AHS continues to try and force us to comply to orders that violate the commands of our Lord and undermine the fundamental freedoms afforded to all Canadians.  

The church’s pastor, Tim Stephens, who is a father of eight, was the third Canadian Christian pastor to be jailed for defying COVID-19 health rules. He was released after a judge agreed to let him out as long as he abides by a now-amended May 6 injunction order issued by AHS. 

Stephens was arrested in front of his family and then jailed  on Sunday, May 16, after holding an indoor church service that went against the provincial government’s rules. 

Stephens and his church have for months been under surveillance by AHS, the Calgary Police Service, and city bylaw officers because they have not bowed to government rules limiting worship congregation size and mandate masks. Additionally, Fairview Baptist was visited on multiple occasions by AHS and police. 

In a statement posted June 5, AHS said Fairview Baptist’s closure was “necessary” because Stephens “has continued to disregard public health measures required by law under Order of the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) for the protection of the public. 

“This Closure Order will remain in place until the Pastor can demonstrate the ability to comply with these restrictions.” 

Stephens wrote on Twitter that it was “incredible” his church doors were locked at the same time news broke that Alberta’s politicians were allegedly caught breaking their own COVID-19 rules.  

“AHS seized our building! Fines, injunctions, imprisonment, and seizure of property will only demonstrate the folly of their actions and bring glory to Christ. Incredible that this happened in the same week our most senior officials were photoed flouting health orders,” tweeted Stephens with a photo of the AHS closure order.  

Last Wednesday, photos emerged showing Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and eight other people, including Health Minister Tyler Shandro, House Leader and Environment Minister Jason Nixon, and Finance Minister Travis Toews appear to be violating COVID-19 guidelines while engaging in a patio dinner on the rooftop of a government building.  

The rooftop dinner was met with outrage from the public as well as from within Kenney’s United Conservative Party caucus.   

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