A pastor from Ontario, Canada faces six years in prison and $600,000 in fines for refusing to turn people away from his church in accordance with state-imposed health measures.
Pastor Steve Richardson of Faith Presbyterian Church in Tillsonburg was initially charged with two counts of exceeding the 10 person limit for church services that were conducted on February 7 and 14.
On Tuesday, Pastor Richardson was slapped with a further four charges for additional services that authorities found violated health measures.
According to Public Health Ontario, there are still restrictions on religious services, with the 10 person limit raised to a 15 percent indoor capacity allowance, along with maintaining social distancing measures and wearing face coverings when within 2 metres of another person who is not part of their household.
Each charge has a maximum sentence of one year imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000, bringing the potential total to six years imprisonment and $600,000 in fines.
Pastor Richardson told Caldron Pool, it’s not rule by law, but by tyranny, where the arbitrary standard is whatever the Premier says.
Over the weekend, Pastor Tim Stephens of Fairview Baptist Church in Alberta was arrested at his home for conducting a small outdoor worship service in violation of Alberta’s health orders. The arrest occurred the same week senior government officials, including Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenny, was seen flouting his own health orders on social gatherings by attending a dinner on the penthouse rooftop patio of Sky Palace.
At the same time, back in Ontario, thousands of people were allowed to gather outside an Islamic centre for a public funeral following the deaths of a Muslim family who were run down in what police described as a planned and premeditated act.
“You have an instance where thousands are allowed to gather,” Pastor Richardson said. “No one is threatened with fines, no one is charged, but Pastor Tim Stephens is in prison right now for gathering in a field, with no where near a thousand people.”
Pastor Richardson said he has counted the cost and is prepared to suffer.
“I don’t want to be separated from my family, but Jesus is worthy,” he said. “If I must go to prison, then I will go to prison for my Master. Perhaps there will be souls in prison that need the gospel.”