Edmonton Police have shut down GraceLife Church, the home of recently incarcerated Pastor James Coates, who spent 36 days behind bars as a prisoner of conscience for insisting that Christ is the head of the church and the scriptures dictate how a church is run.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) says the drastic action will be kept in place until the Church can prove it will follow and comply with COVID-19 restrictions, even going so far as to set up porto-potties for the guards that will be overseeing the property. Not only does the fence extend around the Church, but the congregation has been barred from Church property, including the grassy fields in front of it.
As the barricades continued to be put up throughout the morning, dozens of church members gathered to sing hymns and worship Christ.
Later these congregation members, joined by dozens more with no affiliation to the church, stood around and socialized in close connection, with no charges being laid or fines being given, despite violating outdoor gathering restrictions which limits the people to 10.
While GraceLife members have been peaceful, some of the other unaffiliated people have had some rough interactions with police and guards, none of which ought to reflect on the actions of the church. Furthermore, there are continued protests planned at the church, for which some people are driving several hours and pledging they will camp out until the walls come down.
AHS informed media that the option to physically shut down the church had one they had been considering for a while now, and could have been used at any point prior to this, but they wanted to explore other options first, such as fining and jailing Pastor Coates. Since the Summer of 2020, the AHS has fielded more than 100 complaints and has conducted 17 inspections of the church.
In response to stricter new COVID-19 measures imposed on the province, a third of the ruling party’s MLAs (Member(s) of Legislative Assembly) have revolted, signing and releasing a letter that says in part:
We have heard from our constituents, and they want us to defend their livelihoods and freedoms as Albertans. For months, we have raised these concerns at the highest levels of government and unfortunately, the approach of the government has remained the same…
While Alberta Premier Jason Kenny has not yet responded to this new development, he did comment on the government’s new restrictions, explaining:
Ultimately what causes me to support measures like the ones were announced today is my belief in the sanctity of human life. I would appeal to them to reflect on that life ethic, which is shared by every major faith community.
[Editor’s note: It is not the job of the state to keep us safe. It is our own responsibility, and I for one did not consent to it being taken from me so brazenly.]
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