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Posted: February 28, 2021

Churches should have equal rights

Letter to the Editor

Churches are facing escalating degrees of discrimination during the current lockdown measures. While stores, restaurants, bars and gyms, can open their businesses and have hundreds in their buildings, churches are banned from meeting.

Some churches, despite carefully following strict COVID-19 protocols, are facing exorbitant fines for exercising their charter rights to hold services and meet together. Pastor James Coates of Alberta has even been jailed and is being refused release until he is willing to stop holding services! And this is in a province where churches are still allowed to meet!

This sounds eerily familiar to the persecution religious groups have faced throughout the millennia.

A recent court case in B.C. demonstrates that police have to be held accountable to the law. They are not above the law! According to top constitutional lawyer Rocco Galati, police don’t have the jurisdiction to uphold new health regulations. Our Charter rights, such as freedom of religion, press, speech, assembly, and against unreasonable search and seizure or detaining are still in effect.  Also, by law, a Federal Emergency Act—cannot supersede our Canadian Charter of Rights! The Federal Emergency Act Preamble states: AND WHEREAS the Governor in Council, in taking such special temporary measures, would be subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights and must have regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, particularly with respect to those fundamental rights that are not to be limited or abridged even in a national emergency;

Furthermore, according to Section 176 of our The Criminal Code of Canada, it is a criminal offence to interfere with, obstruct or arrest ministers or those attending services.

I urge each one of you to contact your Senators, MPs, Premier, MLAs, and Health Officers, and do what you can to help keep our country free.

You can find contact information for government officials as well a sample letter to send to officials at (Contacts; Open the churches-Resources).

Whether you are a person of faith or not, your liberties are being compromised under the guise of this current “health crisis.” A study of current statistics proves that the death rate from the COVID-19 virus is similar to that of a normal influenza. The risk of death is only 0.001% of the population for those under 60, and less than 0.03% of the total population!  (https://health-infobase.canada.ca/covid-19/epidemiological-summary-covid-19-cases.html, Figure 5 “cases deceased”). This does not warrant the extreme lockdown measures we are being forced to endure.

There is no reason churches cannot safely open their doors and allow those who wish to exercise their fundamental rights to worship and assemble together. As one B.C. pastor put it, “If a restaurant can keep people safe while talking and eating, we the church can as well.  They get to operate and serve burgers and fries…we get fined and threatened with injunctions.”

Churches are an essential part of our community. Humans are created to be social beings, and lack of social contact is contributing to record high rates of suicide, drug overdose, anxiety, health and mental problems. Other support groups, such as AA, are allowed to meet.  Why are churches not being allowed to meet the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of the community?

As citizens of a democratic country, it is our responsibility to stand up for our freedoms.  Our constitution guarantees us the right to assemble and to exercise our religion, yet these are being restricted at present.  The government is not taking these rights away, we are capitulating them by failing to take action.

If we fail to exercise our rights, we will lose them!

God keep our land glorious and free.

Ruth Talbot,

Cranbrook


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