In what is believed to be a first in North America, a Canadian church that gathered for worship in defiance of provincial COVID-19 lockdown laws, which limits church gatherings to 10 people, has had their elder board of six people charged under Section 10.1 of the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) for holding church services on Sunday, December 27.
If convicted, they could each receive a $10,000 fine.
News of the charges to the elders of Trinity Bible Chapel in Waterloo, Ontario was delivered on December 30th, when in a coordinated effort, law enforcement officers showed up at each of the homes of the six elders and delivered them the court summons.
In a press release sent out about the incident, the church expressed their dismay and righteous anger at this news:
Our government is destroying our society to prevent the spread of a virus with a fraction of a fractional death rate. This is evil. Nowhere does the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantee freedom from risk or virus, but it does protect the freedom of conscience, religion, belief, and assembly. These are unlawful laws, a violation of God-given rights, a contravention of Section 176 of the Criminal Code, and an infringement of the Charter.
Unsurprisingly, the chief of police who is overseeing and enforcing the lockdown advocated for Black Lives Matter protests several months back when they were similarly prohibited. He supported these gatherings of over 10,000 people, explaining that “we will ensure you have the support needed to practice your democratic right and have your voice heard.”
For churches, not so much.
The press release concludes with these words:
Our Saviour shed His blood to purchase the church, and therefore deeming the church “unessential” is tantamount to deeming the blood of Christ unessential, which is a public act of blasphemy. One day our elected officials, bureaucrats, and police will stand before the court of God’s justice for these acts. We earnestly pray that the Holy Spirit would draw them to His Son, Jesus Christ, who offers free grace and forgiveness to all who would repent and put their faith in him.
Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, and therefore we must honour and obey him above all earthly governments. We emphasize that our hope in Christ’s goodness is firmly anchored. Our Saviour is just, equitable, and loving towards his people. He has every hair on our heads numbered, and his eyes see all things. He will lead us through the valley of the shadow of death, and we will fear no evil. He has taught us to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, and to count our sufferings as pure joy. We embrace his will in humility by submitting to his heavy hand trusting that in the proper time he will exalt us because he cares.
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