Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison… Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.(Revelation 2:10)
Christians have been jailed and persecuted all over the world but for the most part in the last century North Americans have been blessed to be able to attend church in peace and not be afraid of being arrested.
Well COVID-19 has destroyed this narrative.
A Canadian Pastor has just been fined and arrested for holding church services that violated COVID-19 violations.
It gets worse, in order to receive bail pastor James Coates has to agree to hold no more services.
They are literally telling him don’t preach the gospel and we’ll let you out of jail.
Pastor Coates is currently in a maximum security prison in Edmonton and is in solitary confinement.
Pastor James Coates was put in a MAXIMUM SECURITY prison for violating lockdown rules. Rebel News' Ezra Levant joins me with the story: "we're letting criminals out and putting a pastor in". pic.twitter.com/ajjwpzqvaz
— Glenn Beck (@glennbeck) February 20, 2021
Pastor James Coates' wife told the crowd how people can help her and her family while her husband is held in solitary confinement in a maximum security prison for the crime of not turning away congregants to meet a 15% capacity limit:
"Open your churches"
— Sheila Gunn Reid (@SheilaGunnReid) February 20, 2021
The Montana Daily Gazette covered the shocking story:
Protesters rallied at the Edmonton Remand Center yesterday to protest the ongoing lockup of Pastor James Coates, The GraceLife Church minister who remains quarantined in a maximum-security prison. Coates is the first religious leader to be arrested for preaching in Canada in nearly 200 years, the result of defying a public health order that caps indoor church services at 15% capacity, along with strict social distancing protocol, masking policies, and prohibitions on corporate worship.
After Coates was arrested he was given the opportunity to be released, despite the wishes of the prosecution. With no criminal record and health violations rarely if ever accompanied by jail time, the Judge was primed to set him free, but then put a condition on him that he not step foot on church property, and especially not call his church to worship again from the pulpit.
Refusing to abide by those conditions due to deep religious and personal conviction, Coates was remanded until one of three things happen.
The Crown Prosecutor relents and abandons the conditions. His lawyer wins a successful appeal at his conditions hearing, which is set for February 24th. He has his trial , which could be several months away.
Thankfully, it seems he has not wasted his prison time, with confirmed reports that he has been preaching and sharing the gospel with those within earshot of him.
Many people are outraged in Canada and are protesting Coates’ arrest:
— Liberty Coalition Canada (@LibertyCCanada) February 20, 2021
The rally for Pastor James Coates. pic.twitter.com/6WIwbyy0uX
— Oma10 (@theresiasmith52) February 20, 2021
Christian Today got the full scoop too:
A Canadian pastor arrested for violating public health orders remains in police custody after refusing the conditions of his bail: that he stop holding services that defy COVID-19 regulations.
The case of GraceLife Church pastor James Coates has reignited a religious freedom debate over worship gatherings during government lockdowns.
GraceLife had been fined $1,200 in December, and this month officers found the church again in violation and issued an undertaking requiring Coates to comply. When the church met as usual last Sunday, they called for his arrest. Coates was preaching on Romans 13:1-4, a message titled “Directing the Government to Its Duty.”
Ultimately Coates turned himself in on Tuesday and was arrested on charges of contravening the Public Health Act and refusing the undertaking, the CBC reported. He has twice refused to agree to the conditions of his release, the network said.
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which is representing Coates and Grace Life, said the pastor “could not, in good conscience, agree to” stop holding church services, as ordered.
“I’m doing what I’m doing in obedience to Christ. I am quite content to let the Lord Jesus Christ himself decide whether or not this is persecution,” Coates said in his February 14 sermon, according to the Edmonton Journal.
In these last days we must make sure we are obedient to Christ because man’s law will try to make us deny him.