Canadian government official: “We have the ability to do this, we’re protecting the public interest.”
Having had no indoor services since November, Catholics in British Columbia were planning on using pandemic protocols to open churches this week, and for Easter. Those plans were canceled Monday by the civil government.
Health minister: “Limited indoor worship services that we have worked very carefully with our faith leaders across the province will also now need to be suspended.”
With no end in sight, religious liberty and practice may never get back to normal unless religious leaders take a principled stand. On Sunday, Protestant Pastor James Coates of Edmonton, Alberta did just that.
News anchor: “The pastor of a church in the Edmonton area is under arrest for violating public health orders, repeatedly holding sermons that exceed Alberta’s capacity limits.”
Coates just spent 33 days in jail for preaching in church to people who wanted to hear it. Doing so, he violated Canada’s COVID regulations. But Coates is determined to continue preaching the word of God, regardless of the consequences.
Pastor Coates: “By meeting, we’re testifying the government has no jurisdiction here. Not with regard to our worship.”
Closer to home …
Deirdre Hairston: “I’m going to put you in handcuffs if you don’t stand up right now.”
A Dallas mother with a baby in her arms and one in her womb was forcibly removed from Holy Trinity Catholic Church two weeks ago.
Hairston: “I’m holding my baby, and I go to receive Communion, my husband in tow. We turn to go back to our seat, where we see three police officers.”
Deirdre Hairston was kneeling with Jesus in the Eucharist still on her tongue when confronted by Church authorities for not wearing a mask.
Hairston: “One reason I really was hesitant to wear the mask, as well, on top of these things, is because I’m newly pregnant. I was light-headed and kind of weak.”
It wasn’t civil authority that called the police on her, but the pastor.
Hairston: “I think it’s all about control. The second I’m not obedient to him. It’s almost like they become demonic or possessed with fury and anger. It’s bizarre.”
With the lockdowns last year, every bishop in the country suspended public Mass, often without government officials telling them to do so. Civil governments and Church authorities have cooperated in limiting church services to the faithful. More principled stands are needed to ensure restrictions on worship don’t become permanent.