Alberta Premier, Jason Kenney, is facing increased backlash after a pastor was jailed for conducting worship services in defiance of state-enforced restrictions which deemed church a non-essential practice.
According to Edmonton Journal, when Kenney was pressed on the matter of Pastor James Coates arrest during an interview with talk-radio host Danielle Smith, the Premier said it’s irresponsible to be delivering “libertarian sermons” while C0VID-19 continues to be a risk.
Kenny went on to say he doesn’t incarcerate or release people, and could not comment on or interfere with a legal case.
The Journal, however, said Kenny has copped harsh criticism across social media following the arrest, citing Lori Williams, political scientist at Mount Royal University, who said there is “growing anger among rural and religious conservatives over perceived government overreach.”
Pastor James Coates of Grace Life Church near Edmonton handed himself in at the request of police last week after holding an in-person church service on February 14 in violation of the state’s dystopian “new normal.”
According to reports, Pastor Coates has been charged under the Public Health Act for repeatedly violating public health orders, including being over capacity and failing to adhere to physical distancing requirements.
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
Coates’ lawyer, James Kitchen, said the churches’ first loyalty is to obey their God, not government.
“They are committed to gathering, as they always have, for in-person worship services. They will challenge this excessive and unlawful government oppression rather than turn their back on their beliefs. They also believe they are lawfully exercising their Charter-protected freedoms and that the Government’s restrictions are not justifiable.”
According to a press release from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, Grace Life has almost 400 congregants, and not one has been lost to the virus. However, one of their members did die in the first week of February because he was unable to receive cancer treatment due to the Government’s restrictions.