James Coates
GraceLife Church pastor James Coates (Photo Credit: GraceLife Church's YouTube page)

Canadian Pastor Calls Lockdowns “Greatest Threat” to Health in First Day of Trial

By Jackson Elliott

Canadian pastor James Coates today argued in his first day of trial that government lockdowns aimed at restricting the spread of the coronavirus pandemic “are the greatest threat to the health of Alberta.” 

Coates added that COVID-19 is “not much more than a flu” and that mask requirements violate religious freedom and are “an effort to transform our nation.”

Coates, the pastor of Edmonton’s GraceLife Church, went on trial today for a ticket issued Dec. 20 for breaching Alberta’s 15% capacity limit for church attendance. Coates argued that the law is unconstitutional.

However, government authorities said Coates and his church are endangering lives. Cases in Alberta have been on the rise. According to the most recent government update, Canada has over 7,000 new cases per day.

Previously, authorities jailed Coates for 35 days for hosting church services at over 15% capacity. He was released on March 22 and then continued to host services at full capacity.

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Canadian authorities then fenced off his church building. Now his congregation reportedly meets in secret.

In testimony today, Coates said that for months, Canada’s government and the media has put pressure on Coates’s church to obey COVID-19 restrictions. Police consistently showed up at his church, he said, making it clear that they would leave only if he stopped holding services at full capacity.

“From December 13 all the way to my imprisonment must have been the most intense pressure cooker of my life,” he said. “The harassment from Health Human Resources and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was intense and loomed over us every week.”

During the trial today, health inspector Janine Hanraham testified that she repeatedly saw church members at GraceLife close together without masks. On one occasion, Hanraham said Coates called Alberta’s chief medical officer a dictator. 

Coates told the court that COVID-19 restrictions imposed on freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of religion.

“The Bible uses the analogy of the body,” he said. “The local church is the body of Christ. The body as a whole is to come together. The body of Christ is made up of many members. To come together in worship on Sundays is for that body to come together.”

By compelling Coates and his church to turn people away if they exceed mandated numbers, or if they don’t have masks, Canada’s government restricted their religious freedom, Coates said.

“I’m required by the so-called law to ask people to wear a mask,” he said. “And if I don’t, I have to ask them to leave. That’s infringing on the consciences of the people I love and care about.”

In addition, Coates said masks hamper communication without being effective at stopping the virus. He added that social distancing measures infringe on the freedom of association.

Cross-examination noted that Coates said he was willing to abide by government rules during the early days of the pandemic. Coates also said in the trial that he initially was willing to turn people away from church or split up church services if numbers of people exceeded fire code capacity.

John Carpay, the president of Canada’s Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), which represents Coates, said he hopes that the courts will uphold the church’s “charter rights and freedoms.”

He added that the case could have a major impact on Canadian religious freedom. If Coates wins, similar cases in Alberta will be decided in favor of pastors, Carpay said. But if he loses, the legal balance will sway in favor of lockdown rules.

“If (Coates loses,) we are still in a position of educating the public with the facts and helping people to let go of their unfounded fear and we can change the laws without favorable court rulings,” Carpay added.

In many provinces, Canada’s COVID-19 lockdown has remained strict. Ontario forbids religious gatherings of over 10 people, Quebec imposes 8 p.m. curfews, and Alberta forbids all indoor social gatherings.

Many Canadians believe these strict measures violate their rights. Currently, the JCCF represents 100 people across Canada, most of whom have been fined over $1,000 for violating COVID-19 restrictions.

“It was fearmongering from 2020 that put us into a state of fear,” said Carpay. “The government’ s own statistics show us the fear is not founded.”

Carpay argued that seniors and vulnerable people should be concerned about COVID-19, but most people are fairly safe. 

The trial is expected to continue for the next three to four days.

Jackson ElliottJackson Elliott is a Christian journalist trained at Northwestern University. He has worked at The Daily Signal, The Inlander, and The Christian Post, covering topics ranging from D.C. politics to prison ministry. His interests include the Bible, philosophy, theology, Russian literature, and Irish music.

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85 thoughts on “Canadian Pastor Calls Lockdowns “Greatest Threat” to Health in First Day of Trial”

  1. Thomas Lyons

    Let’s add to the discussion the risks that lockdown and covid restrictions have on people struggling with addictions and mental health issues. We lost our son to an opioid overdose last August. Where is the concern for these people. Rehab and support services were all curtailed increasing risks of relapse and higher anxiety. Both overdose and suicide deaths are up sharply since the one size fits all mandates were imposed.

    God bless this pastor. May there be many more who will follow him in standing up to the “experts” and authorities who are trying to fix a multifaceted problem with solutions that in reality have caused more problems than they have solved.

    I’m not a denier of the potential dangers of the virus. My mother-in-law nearly died. But also I have a friend who got deathly ill from the vaccine. Let’s not let these “experts” rule us. Let’s let them inform and convince us of their wisdom.
    We need liberty to make choices on an individual level. What is needed to protect one person may do another person in, as with people who’s greater vulnerability is not this virus.

    1. “ Both overdose and suicide deaths are up sharply since the one size fits all mandates were imposed.”

      Actually, the number of U.S. suicides fell nearly 6% in 2020— the largest annual decline in at least four decades.

      Overdoses did increase by 19,000 over the previous twelve months, but that is far fewer than the nearly 600,000 US deaths from COVID.

      1. Jessica Hockett

        You’re missing a key concept: Life years lost. When an 80-YO person dies, it is NOT the same as when a 15-YO dies. Even Scripture says, “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.”

        Opioid deaths increased by 30% over 2020. We don’t yet have cause/age death data from the CDC yet, but we know that deaths among 15-19 YOs (for example) increased by 15%. There were few COVID-related deaths in that age group, so that wasn’t the reason. ODs, as well as the increase in homicide, motor vehicle, and other accident deaths are likely the reasons. Each of those cause increases can be linked in some way to lockdown/human intervention policies.

        As for the curious decline in suicides as a manner of death per se, actuaries and mortality experts have some good theories about the decrease. I’ll refrain from summarizing those here, but a death of despair is a death of despair, even if intentionally cannot be discerned, or a decision to commit suicide wasn’t made. FYI, opioid deaths include those by suicide. The data isn’t mutually exclusive.)

        Included in such despair deaths are those hastened by isolation in LTCFs/nursing homes.

        Bottom line: take care when you compare apples with oranges

        1. I didn’t miss that concept Jessica, I simply don’t agree with it. Christians take the view that all life is precious, that only God knows the measure of our days, and that therefore it is inappropriate to engage in arguments that relativistically value one life more or less than another. Leave that to the insurance companies.

          Even so, however, your math doesn’t work.

          Let’s say the 19,000 deaths from overdose each had 50 years of life left (a very generous number for those who are addicted). That’s 950,000 life years.

          Let’s say the 600,000 deaths from COVID had only 10 years of life left (a conservative number). That’s 6,000,000 life years.

          You seem to want to be making a general COVID denial argument, but disguising that in a dispute of causes of deaths from despair.

          Regardless of how you re-classify the group of deaths from suicide and addiction and etc, they are still just a fraction of 600,000. There is no way to make a small number as big as a large one.

          1. Jessica Hockett

            You are operating from a misguided and misinformed set of assumptions.

            Take care.

        2. Jessica. Thank you for your soundness. I appreciate your analysis for you seem to do your research throughly and do not seem to pass judgment when people disagree with you.

          I have noticed Lea is quick to jump on people (my perception of her words) who disagree with her, to the point of seeming to call them a “COVID denier”.

          Statistics have a place, and the virus has created loss of human life, yet the pain created by loss and fear and loneliness (despair and its deaths) is also a great tragedy.

          The greatest epidemic against humanity is sin and the fall.

          One of the greatest things we can do in this hour is to intercede for one another and our world, as God asks us to pray.

          And then, by how we love each other.

          That is what will move Heaven and earth, and bring people to Christ.

          1. It is interesting, S, that even in threads with outright name-calling from other commenters, you follow me around and single me out for criticism.

            It leads me to believe that your problem is not with tone, but that my content challenges your preconceived ideas and this makes you uncomfortable (my perception of your words). It is certainly not loving.

      2. Thomas Lyons

        Thanks for the correction on the suicide rate. I failed to do the research needed for the statement I made. That does weaken my argument, but not my opinion that the losses due to the mandates have been great and the discussion has been too narrow and lopsided.

        1. For a deeper look in the opiod deaths during COVID, here is an article:

          https://reason.com/2021/04/23/the-surge-in-drug-related-fatalities-during-the-pandemic-highlights-the-root-causes-of-addiction/

          Here are some pertinent quotes from the article

          “In other words, pandemic-related isolation, psychological stress, and economic difficulty help explain last year’s surge in drug-related deaths. The pandemic magnified the problems that make drug use more attractive, but it did not create them. Reducing opioid prescriptions does nothing to address those problems; it merely encourages people who experience them to use other, more dangerous drugs.”

          “Contrary to the conventional narrative, which blames the “opioid crisis” on an oversupply of pain pills, “drug-related deaths have been rising since the late 1950s,” as a 2019 report on “deaths of despair” from the Joint Economic Committee noted. The increase in opioid-related fatalities is the latest manifestation of that long-term trend. When it comes to drug-related “deaths of despair,” the root problem is the despair, not the drugs.”

          But I am sure some will try and spin it that if we didn’t have all these pesky COVID restrictions, the drug death problem would go away.

      3. Death “with” Covid accounts for the 600k. Meanwhile death by other causes is way down and flu season never happened.
        Dishonest weights and dishonest measures. The Lord detests them all.

        1. Death “with” is also how flu deaths, cancer deaths, and car accident deaths are calculated. Are you disputing them all, JC?

          It is up to the doctors and the coroners to decide the actual cause of death amidst other conditions and illnesses. Deniers like you propose that thousands of public servants, all across the country, are engaged in a massive conspiracy to defraud the public. Falsifying a death certificate is punishable with a jail sentence.

          Please go ask your local doctors and hospital if they are engaged in fraud and see if they will verify your accusations.

          1. @Lea – I know first hand a situation where a woman died of a heart attack. Family did not want to do autopsy and didn’t want to do Covid test. Hospital recommended Covid test because funeral home would be handling the body. So they agreed to Covid test. Test came back negative. When the family received the death certificate, if said the woman had Covid. Some family members wanted to get a lawyer, but other family members talked them out of it. What is the point and expense. So not quite as cut and dried. In fact, have heard of a number of these situations in our community though more second hand on the rest.

          2. Are you asserting the death certificate was fraudulent, Don? If so, who are you accusing? The doctor? The hospital? The coroner?

            Please be aware that these are serious accusations of CRIMES.

            You should not make them lightly, and if serious you should be willing to back your accusation up. “Hearing of” things is not evidence that a crime has occurred.

      4. The CDC doesn’t have all of the suicide data until 2 years after current year. Look at this page. It was revised March of 2021 with data from 2019.

        Deaths were up in all categories last year:
        jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2778234

    2. Also wanted to add that I am so very sorry for the loss of your son to opioids. It is a devastating crisis that now touches so many and the lives lost should never be forgotten. May God’s presence be very real to you while you grieve.

    3. Thomas, though my opinion differs from yours, my heart totally goes out to you. Even as a parent, I can only imagine what you’ve been through.

  2. Another great report – whether or not we like the situation reported on.

    Yes, we must obey God rather than man. But frankly, I don’t see that this applies in this case. This pastor is clearly making some leaps from “the church is a body” to “therefore we must come together as all members in one place on a Sunday.” I assume that Canada has the same technology as we have in the States – livestream, zoom. Even beyond that, people are permitted in Canada to meet in small groups.

    We need to save our civil disobedience for the big stuff, where the choice between obeying God and obeying man is obvious. The fact that health and individual rights arguments are needed to bolster his case is proof that this is not clearly a Scriptural issue, nor is it big stuff.

    By the way. I’m not a Democrat. I didn’t vote for Biden. I’m not a RINO, etc. etc. (I shouldn’t have to say that, but unfortunately I have to say that.) Sigh.

    1. Agreed 100%. Canada, and the U.S., have provisions written into their constitutions that allow for government intervention for certain emergencies. COVID falls under those provisions. People may well charge that their freedoms are being taken from them. But it is also well within a government’s oversight to set policies and measures that are for the greatest good of a community/state/nation, not for just one group of people.

      What amazes me are Coates’ stubbornness and immaturity throughout the lockdowns and during today’s testimony. He’s not only shown so little compassion for the physical and spiritual needs of his community outside of his (HIS) church since COVID began, but also his name-calling and complaints about mask-wearing come off as childish and spoiled. (Just like his mentor pastor in Southern Cal who also has a court date on this very issue.)

      Well said. From another non-Democrat. 😊

      1. These provisions enabled similar measures requiring masking and mandating closures during the influenza epidemic of 1917-1918. Then, you even had to put a sign on your house as a warning if someone in the household had been sick!

        Given that all this has happened before—100 years ago—this pastor’s assertions that is it “transforming our democracy” just don’t make sense.

        It didn’t end either democracy or the church in 1917, and it won’t now.

    2. If we save it for the big stuff it will be too late. The government has been taking small freedoms away so as to blindly take away the big freedoms. But… we are citizens of Heaven.

      Technological gatherings are a cheap substitute for the gathering of believers. Also, risk is a part of every day living. My brother died from addiction and my other almost died from a heroine addiction. Dealing with a lot of addiction as a pastor. In personal experience and reflection in ministry. One of the key factors is isolation.

      The government does not care about saving lives (that does not mean every government official). It is all about power and control. It is happening fast right before our eyes. In the scriptures the power grab response went like this.

      “ And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

      I love the response to the command. You shall not teach!!! Nah, I think we will go with God on this. You say this but God said this. On the scale of life tips towards God’s word. Same pattern of thinking here.

      You can say they are not forbidding them to teach. But they are forbidden to gather. We are not to forsake the assembly of the body. Also, if Grace Life Church has the biblical conviction of not forsaking the gathering of believers. Then, you bet they are going to obey God over the government. That may not be your conviction and no judgment there. But God has ordained the local church to be His vehicle for dispensing truth and edification of the body.

      1. For starters they are not forbidden to gather. He could have had multiple services of 15% of occupany limits if he chose to. Or meet outside. But this fraud and HIS EGO (AND YOURS) prevents that.

        You might die of a fire in a building, so why don’t we get rid of occupancy limits, and fire exits in buildings while your at it? After all the risk of dying in a building fire is small with modern smoke detectors and alarms, so why heed the occupancy codes of buildings?

      2. Once again, you are misusing Scripture to make a political point.

        But then that is par for the course for you.

        1. Cm. How? Everytime you make a statement you never back it up with scripture. Point out my error with the Bible.

          1. Romans Chapter 13 regarding subject to governing authorities which myself and others have repeatedly pointed out and have pointed out that ignoring that as per the early Christians in the Book of Acts does not apply in this case.

            So who is not following Scriptures then?

          2. CM,

            You are predictable.
            Look at the context or the manifestation of that obedience.

            “Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”

            That passage isn’t talking about how the church should function. It is talking about taxes and laws. Also if you took the text within the context. You would realize Paul has regarded to live as a living sacrifice pleasing and acceptable to God not Government. Isaiah 40, Psalm 2 and Acts 5 give a proper theology of government. It is called hermeneutics.

      3. I get the “slippery slope got to stop it now argument.” And is in-person better than screen time? You betcha. But as I say, small groups are still allowed. Further, if it was only Christians who weren’t allowed to gather that would be another issue.

        Here is something I’d like you to consider. When the NT talks about the church gathered and worshipping on Sunday it is always describing what is happening – never is it prescribing and never commanding. As to the Hebrews verse, there is no mention of the whole body needing to gather on a Sunday morning to be taught. Frankly there is no such clear “command,” for if it were there it would be quoted all over the place and I’d be among the first in line to “rebel” and be thrown in prison (or at least I sure hope I would).

        When the apostles said we must obey God, the command in front of them was to “go into all the world and preach the gospel.”

        One problem with putting everything at that level (especially when it is clearly not) is that when you have “convictions” about everything (which isn’t really possible), then we’ll not be taken seriously about anything.

        1. RKDENLINGER,

          I agree but the other side of your argument still has the same problem. What is happening at Grace Life church does not need to be normative. It is a local autonomous church and it has elders that are responsible for the congregation God has trusted them to care for.

          I am not saying that this is or should be normative for every church. I am saying that for this body of believers they are following the New Testament command as they have interpreted it. When I say normative I mean the direction of Grace Life is not for the universal church. However the charges against Grace Life Church are void. The attacks on motives or that they are unbiblical is a a stretch.

          There are many things in the Bible that do not have exact imperatives. The issue here is that people are acting as judge and jury. Without a solid biblical reason. That is the slippery slope.

      4. ‘And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them…”

        Peter and the apostles were brought before a RELIGIOUS council–the Sanhedrin–not a GOVERNMENT council. While the Sanhedrin certainly exercised some control that we would not associate with governmental authority–they had a temple guard and jail, for example–they were subject to the Roman rulers, which is why those same leaders had to apply to Pilate to execute Jesus.

        The Sanhedrin were basically saying they didn’t want any competition, and in fact the rest of the passage refers to their jealousy: “Then the high priest and all his associates, who belonged to the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.” They wanted to have free reign to carry on with their own religious teaching, while denying the apostles the ability to do the same.

        I do not consider this Biblical example analogous to James Coates’ challenge of Canada’s COVID-19 rules, which are applied to all religious groups equally.

        The real point of Acts 5 is in its final verse: “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Every day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.”

        James Coates remains free to teach and proclaim the good news that Jesus is the Christ. He can do so in the temple courts, and from house to house. Nothing in the COVID-19 rules prevents him.

    3. Michele Veldman

      I totally agree with you. We need, here in Canada to be more worried about Bill C10 and more media and steaming control, or other issues, A time will come when our pastors and churches will be challenged about issues of sexuality, morality, abortion, euthanasia. Why are we whining about masks and a few months of lockdown?
      Also…in Canada, we do have Zoom and Facebook Live and YouTube and……it’s not easy, but my husband , as an elder of a church, feels that conversation now is much deeper and more fruitful for Christ…

  3. Interesting timing for James Coates trial given Alberta will be facing more restrictions tomorrow.

    Alberta hit it’s highest number of Covid-19 cases today since the pandemic began.
    The positivity rate is 13.2%. Huge increase in the UK variant.
    Alberta has 22% of cases in Canada, and the chief medical officer for Alberta says that Alberta has the worst performance of any province in Canada or state in the US.

    Not too many supporters in front of the courthouse – wonder if that will change?
    Most seemed to be anti-maskers.
    I wonder if Coates case has been overshadowed by a rodeo anti lockdown rally this weekend. (Alberta isn’t in a strict lockdown)

    I don’t know that Coates did himself any favours espousing his opinions in court today given this is trial by judge only.
    (Jurors might be split toward his opinions and behaviors, laws or not)
    The Charter arguments by the defense (Sections 2c, 7, 9 and 11e) will be interesting.

    JCCF will be representing 8 churches in Manitoba in court next week.

    Thanks for staying on this Jackson.

  4. Brian Patrick

    Coates shouldn’t be on trial. Religious freedom is a human right and consenting adults have the right to put themselves at risk. That being said, real Christians need to be calling him out as a cultist.

    1. Brain, I kind of agree with you. I do not think he should have been arrested or put on trial for this, but I also think he has been acting foolish throughout this whole thing. If he wants to be a social activist regarding civil liberties that is fine, but he should not do it as a pastor or in the name of Christ. I cannot see how this is an admiral testimony to the world.

      I am reminded of a story regarding Alexander the Great. I do not know if it is true or just legend. Supposedly Alexander was going through his army one day and came across a soldier who was sleeping. He asked the soldier his name and it turns out that his name was also Alexander. Alexander the Great told him something to the effect that he should either change his name or change his occupation or his conduct.

      I really think pastors, and for that matter, all believers, should think about who they are representing when engaging in things like this.

    2. Brian, I am sorry I misspelled your name in my last post. That is what I get for trying to do this on my phone.

    3. Serving Kids in Japan

      Two questions:

      1) How do any of the restrictions enacted endanger the right to religious freedom?

      2) If Coates is a ‘cultist’ as you say (and he might very well be), then are you so certain that all of those assembling at his church are doing so without coercion?

      1. It is a fair question. Labels of One as a cultist is totally subjective. I know why these men are doing it too. Based on all the post of John MacArthur (which they despise his ministry) who Pastor Coates has affiliation with… Their syllogistic reasoning is.
        PREMISE A:
        John MacArthur… CULTIC AND BAD!!!
        PREMISE B:
        Pastor Coates went to Master’s Seminary and was supported by MacArthur’s church during this ordeal.
        CONCLUSION ;
        There for Pastor Coates is cultish and bad.

        1. That’s not my view at all. I think a cultish pastor is one who attempts to exert control over details of his parishioner’s lives rather than simply exhorting and encouraging them.

          Coates’ adamant stances in making himself the source of medical advice about masks and social distancing, and in urging his members to disobey local authorities, certainly raises red flags for me about his desire to control his congregation.

    4. I think what a lot of folks miss is that they aren’t simply putting themselves at risk. If that were the case, I’d totally agree. With the degree that this virus has spread by people who didn’t know they had it, let alone where they got it means their actions do affect the community around them.

    5. I agree that consenting adults have the right to put themselves at risk if they want. Problem here is they’re putting others (non consenting folks in community around them) at risk also.

  5. Darren and Mr. Patrick,
    If the Biblical conviction of Grace Life Church based on Acts 5:27-29, “ And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” As their autonomous biblical conviction as a church. How can it be a social activism vs a Biblical conviction. The church may have a biblical conviction of Hebrews 10:25, that they need to gather together regularly. They are not seeking attention or acting foolishly. Every interview, sermon and response to the government is that they are following their Biblical convictions. The government has come after them. The church is responding as the apostles did in Acts 5. They look at the scales of government and God. They are like we will follow God on this one. Makes Biblical and ecclesiastical sense.

    1. And once again, you fail to explain how a 15% present occupancy restriction for 1 service (no limit on the number of services or on what days) or no restrictions for outside services is PREVENTING or PROHIBITING them from gathering regularly. You can also say that adhering to the regular occupancy limits due to fire codes is doing the _exact_ same thing. If the building code says max 1000 people, then obviously is it preventing them from gathering regularly at one time for 1200 people. But Coates (and apparently you) are OK with that.

      Remember in the Book of ACTS, they were _completely_ prohibited from their actions. Which is clearly NOT the case here.

    2. In Acts 5 it was the *preaching* of the apostles that the Sanhedrin (a religious council, NOT a government) sought to prohibit. That is not the case with Mr. Coates. He can stand on a street corner and preach just as much as he would like, just like the apostles did.

  6. People like this man are the reason why I’ve had it with church and will never go back. I had three family members who worked in health care, all in hospital settings. Two of them died because of COVID, contracted while serving patients. His remarks and behavior make a mockery of their sacrifice, and the sacrifice of so many others. James Coates might claim to love his neighbors, but he clearly, demonstrably does not. He hates them.

    1. I’m sorry for your loss. I have lost family do to this disease as well. But the correlation you are making is a false dichotomy. His remarks are not against those who serve. His remarks are against those who are thwarting the ministry to which is making sacrifices as well.

      1. When Coates says that COVID-19 is not much more than a flu, his remarks are indeed against those who serve and fight against the disease.

        He minimizes and disdains those who have lost their lives fighting for others against COVID-19 by implying that it is no big deal.

        Perhaps Pastor Coates should visit the sick and dying in a COVID ward…that would be a use of his time far more in keeping with the example of Jesus.

          1. Perhaps Pastor Coates should protest for the right to do so, then, since he believes in that sort of approach. His court cases show us where his priorities lie, and it is not with ministering to the sick and dying.

  7. Actually I haven’t. And 15% isn’t the full body meeting together. Having 10 services and only 15%? How do all the saints gather at 15%?

    1. The full body can be outside at 100% or more. Or alternatively at a facility where 15% capacity equals their normal church attendance amount.

      Something you completely ignore.

        1. It is a rebuttal to your asinine comment which I have copied below for reference:

          “And 15% isn’t the full body meeting together. Having 10 services and only 15%? How do all the saints gather at 15%?”

          The regular churchgoers can meet outside with no occupancy restrictions or go to use a facility whose reduced occupancy rating is enough for their attendance.

          Second, the full body meeting together at his (and any church) doesn’t happen regardless. There are always people who cannot make it. So all the saints never gather anyways on a given day. So that assertion is not a valid reason.

          Third, Scriptures never specify HOW these gatherings occur, HOW often should they happen (how many times per week/daymonth/etc), the location, and the manner/logistics/etc of said gatherings, etc. They are silent on these issues.

          So you are make arguments from silence, which as you know is a logical fallacy.

          1. CM,

            Your making assertions to back up an invalid argument.

            1. Meet outside makes it ok but not inside? With that logic. Walmart, schools, grocery stores and many other places of gathering must meet outside.

            2. So because everyone can not attend. Then, 15% is a reason?

            3. The Bible just says regularly. Which, God gives grace, liberty, discernment and elders to regulate that.

            So not sure what is asinine.

          2. KC,

            1. Meet outside makes it ok but not inside? With that logic. Walmart, schools, grocery stores and many other places of gathering must meet outside.

            Walmart and every other business have the same occupancy restrictions for inside. If Walmart wanted to move their entire store outside to their parking lot and have drive-thru shopping like Home Depot does for the
            mulch and other yard stuff in the spring, they are perfectly free to do so.

            But then if you actually had a clue about particle and aerosol science, computational fluid dynamics, HVAC design, and the like you should know that the reason capacity is limited is because the air is constantly recirculated in buildings with modern HVAC systems.

            But unlike Coates and other despicable narcissists like him, Walmart actually follows the guidelines and many of them have someone at the entrance and exit with a counter to make sure the total number of people does not exceed the reduced capacity restrictions.

            Your arguments are invalid and illogical. And everyone can see that. This is why you cannot back your statements up with facts. And your use of Scriptures in this case to back up an indefensible argument is flawed.

  8. Also as to Acts and Hebrews fits together as to the principle of following God rather than man in the context of the full body meeting is very apropos. You can not do body life at 15%.

    1. I don’t know the details of Coates’ church, but a pastor speaking to a crowd is functioning more as a “blob” than a “body.” Perhaps this should be a season for pastors to rethink what church is intended to be. Forced to smaller, more intimate services may develoe more people connecting to one another in a less superficial manner, where there is actually an opportunity for the congregation to minister to each other. Sounds more like a body to me.

    2. What percentage of the “body” is Pastor Coates church? What percentage of the body of believers in Alberta? In Canada? In the world?

      The body of Christ already meets in groups large and small, each only a tiny percentage of the whole. The attendance of most churches at any given meeting is far below 100%. I grew up with a tradition of attending a Wednesday night mid-week service whose numbers were less than 10% of the Sunday morning attendance. Was there no “body life” there?

      I just don’t seem the point of your argument over percentages.

    3. Everyone? CM. I am glad you can tell that everyone sees my flaws. I’ve been to Walmart in Canada and The Upper Peninsula, and about 30 other states. It is always packed. They have a clicker. There is no enforcement of your regulations. Sorry, Bill Nye the science guy. Glad you and HVAC expert. Because clearly you do not know the Bible in an honest humble biblical conversation. Like in other posts, you call people names, myself, John MacArthur, James Coates and etc. só name calling, Judge, jury and HVAC expert.

      1. First, nice attempt at the “The others do it too card” there.

        Second, have you _actually_ looked at the max occupancy limit certificate of a given Walmart? Until you know what that is, and what the reduced amount percentage, and what the actual count is in the store at that time, your observation of “packed” is entirely subjective and utterly meaningless. Now before you say I didn’t do that with Coates and his church, may I remind you that Coates _admitted_ his church met on multiple times at attendance levels way about the 15% capacity limit. Unless of course Coates is simply making sh*t up about his attendance levels many times to be an attention whore.

        Third, if Walmart and others are violating the guidelines, then I suggest someone file a complaint to the local health officials accordingly.

        1. No you said everyone. Sees it. I never denied he didn’t meet over 15%. I am saying he has a biblical and a theological reason to do so. It doesn’t have to be normative. It is within the realm of the local autonomous church.

          1. And I dispute yours and his reasons as they are flawed. He deserves whatever sanction the Province of Alberta places on him. But then I am sure you and he will play the persecution card and make a mockery of those who are actually killed for their beliefs.

  9. I agree. Church may have to rethink things for the preservation of the gospel. That is t the context of the conviction of this particular body of believers. Whenever one makes what Grace Life is doing as normative that can be an issue. However this issue here is the gathering of corporate worship and corporate life. There are non-negotiable things in the Bible. However the method God used in this period are elders who are responsible for every aspect of the Church life.

  10. Mr. Jesperson

    This is a story of a narcissist drawing attention to himself while claiming to be righteous when he is clearly the opposite. Christians do have a need to educate themselves in order to discern what Jesus called the religious hypocrites, the white-washed septic tanks full of filth. The liars, pretenders, manipulators. Those that love the praises of men and do their religious services of all kinds to be seen by other men. These people are abusive, deceptive and ungodly in all of their ways.

    The narcissist leader needs the attention and praises of other men. They will grandstand. They will break laws without good reason. They need a building full of people to keep their inflated egos full. They make excuses in order to try to do this. They do not care about others, who gets sick and who dies is not their concern. They love only their own selves. They throw temper tantrums when they do not get their way. And this blog keeps writing about them because men keep following them, applauding their “greatness” while following their bad examples. There is no Christianity here, just a cult of personality which can happen in any religion and does.

  11. The sad thing about all this is how much division is in the church. Not sure if it is church on these responses. How about a valid biblical or theological arguments. They are all subjective and ascribed motives. Can someone give a fully orbed biblical view against Grace Life having church the way they do? This 15%, meeting outside or because some are unable to attend as a reason to not have church. That has zero biblical merit. The cdc and all these governments run health organizations are not using science.. Science literally means knowledge gained through observation. When they say follow the science, they mean follow the scientists. Dr. Fauci spot on?

    1. “How about a valid biblical or theological arguments. ”

      There is something in your comment that I agree with, KC. And that is that as Christians, we should primarily be making biblical arguments, not arguments about the Constitution (which is not a God-breathed document) or the general idea of democratic freedoms. But you disobey your own admonishment by tacking on an anti-science screed to the end of your comment.

      Many commenters here, including myself, have indeed engaged with you on a Biblical and theological basis, including your discussion of the proper application of Acts 5.

      1. Well you misread me. Because if you read the context of Acts 5 and Hebrews 10:25. One is a narrative and the other is a theological truth. I’m not saying that the story is the same but their convictions on what they see God leading their church as Acts 5 and Hebrews 10 are a biblical grid to make as I said decisions for their church. I also said it is not normative, but they see the flock their as needing to adhere to those types of text in applications that they do. It is not wrong. It’s their conviction as a body. The point of Science is that it isn’t science as I said it is scientists. So honestly I do not see your point. You obviously cherry-picked my points. And when someone disagrees with the texts within the co text I put them. 80% of the reasoning had nothing to do with texts. The other is void to my point.

          1. I’m saying that to use Acts 5 to support Grace Life (not the church as a whole) having to follow 15% is not a theological argument. As was in response to my reasons above.

  12. Here is the defense brief:

    https://www.jccf.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/2021-04-14-Coates-Charter-Notice-Filed.pdf

    Day 2 of this trial is quite interesting. The defense wanted to call a pathologist but after a break decided to defer him for awhile. Defense argues this is relevant to Section 24 of the Charter breaches.

    There was a laugh out loud moment for me when the defense asked to submit the transcript of Coates bail hearing.
    The Crown says it isn’t relevant because it was resolved, the judge will weigh it’s relevance later.

    The argument by the defense is that the transcript shows the Crown sought “imposition of a bail term which required him to forsake his religious convictions.”
    This goes to Sec. 2A and 7 where the argument is that bail conditions for some offenders like abstention from alcohol for example sets them up to fail.
    The defense then said that they are not suggesting that Coates is addicted to his religion.

    The defense says the December 20 ticket was issued because Coates preached a sermon critical of the government and it was meant to produce a chilling effect on James Coates.

    I find it interesting that the JCCF has brought up a twist of Section 2C – the right of physical gatherings. Virtual gatherings haven’t been addressed as yet by a court.

    Coates criticized ‘main stream media’ in court yesterday, saying the church has been mistreated by media but that falls flat for a lot of reasons.
    There are experienced reporters covering this carefully and well, and for that at least the public is served.

    Coates was quite ill after returning from a conference in LA last year just before the pandemic was declared.
    He said yesterday he took 2 pcr tests which were negative, and that he thinks he had Covid-19. He said something to the effect that the tests are unreliable. I don’t see how he helped himself, he seems to think and speak in absolutes

  13. Jackson’s Hole

    Pastor Coates lands himself in prison. What an excellent opportunity Coates has to
    1) Preach the gospel to his fellow inmates
    2) Sing praises whilst chained to the guards and 3) Write a book.

  14. Court is done for now and will reconvene in Stony Plain on June 7th, strictly for the following:

    The judge has 3 questions to consider:

    Were James Coates Charter rights violated?
    If his Charter rights were violated, was it justified under Sec. 1?
    If Sec. 7 rights were violated does he have a remedy under Sec 24

    Sec. 7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

    Sec. 1 1. Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

    The rights and freedoms in the Charter are not absolute. They can be limited to protect other rights or important national values.

    Sec. 24 Court involvement if the individual’s rights have been denied.

    The Crown’s stated in closing that there were ways GraceLife Church and James Coates could conduct all these freedoms. They chose not to.

  15. For those who are using Romans 13 as defense for why they disagree with Pastor Coates… please consider the context of what that obedience looks like.

    “ Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”

    Taxes. Not to allow the government dictate how a church should be run. Isaiah 40, Psalm 2, Acts 6 and many other passages can be found to give a Biblical theology of how God views the government and what should be our response. I agree with the last part of the verse I quoted. “Respect to whom respect is owed”. Also when the people came take the fences down. It was Grace Life who helped put up the fences. That is putting that statement in practice. Doesn’t mean they agree with the government or stopped gathering, but they showed respect and honor. That’s the gospel in action.

    1. But the church is NOT a building. By your statement and logic you would be OK if a local church decided to violate fire codes.

  16. CM… Don’t put me in an argument that I’ve never made. That is a lame response to Romans 13 exegesis. Buildings? Fire Codes? We weren’t even talking about that. You are using a misnomer. Stick to the point.

  17. Another superspreader church just announced in Oregon. This is why churches shut down, James Coates.

    “Peoples Church in northeast Salem tied to one of Oregon’s largest Covid outbreaks”

    “The Oregon Health Authority said Wednesday that 74 people had contracted Covid through an outbreak tied to the church after beginning an investigation in April. The church’s lead pastor, Scott Erickson, joined nine other Oregon churches in a 2020 lawsuit unsuccessfully seeking to overturn Gov. Kate Brown’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” order.

    “During an April 18 service, Executive Pastor Tom Murray said Erickson and his wife, Bonnie, were hospitalized and “receiving care after a Covid diagnosis.”

    FB videos show no masks or distancing among the congregation.

    https://www.salemreporter.com/posts/4180/peoples-church-in-northeast-salem-tied-to-one-of-oregons-largest-covid-outbreaks

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