While a number of churches in the United States have successfully battled against the gross unfairness of states being less restrictive against secular businesses during the pandemic, worship leaders in Canada are having an extremely difficult time.
According to the Calgary Herald, pastor Tim Stephens of the Calgary-based Fairview Baptist Church was arrested for a second time this year after Canadian authorities discovered he was holding secret church services, which according to current provincial COVID-19 restrictions, are not allowed.
In parts of Canada, strict rules regarding COVID-19-related lockdowns are still in place, with churches being especially restricted with concern to gathering size, social distancing, and mask-wearing.
Police said that a number of people had expressed concerns over Stephens continuing to hold services despite the pandemic restrictions still in place. He was reportedly served a Court of Queen’s Bench order over the weekend, but allegedly violated it on Sunday after he was spotted by a police helicopter holding a worship service in a secret location.
Canadian law enforcement officials chose not to interrupt the service, but arrested Stephens a day later at his home, in front of his family, in a heart-wrenching scene caught on video.
— Adam Soos ⳩ (@ATSoos) June 14, 2021
Jay Cameron, a lawyer with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms who is representing Stephens, claims that the arrest was an act of the state going after those who speak out and defy current pandemic lockdown orders.
“It appears that Premier Kenney’s government is targeting its enemies, those who are speaking out against lockdown restrictions and for Charter freedoms,” Cameron said.
“Locking out Fairview Baptist congregants and arresting Pastor Tim Stephens has everything to do with punishing dissent, and nothing to do with public safety,” the attorney added.