GraceLife with fence
GraceLife Church behind a police fence (Photo Credit: Kent Morrison on Twitter)

Police Fence Off and Surround Canadian Church That Defied COVID-19 Restrictions

By Jackson Elliott

Authorities in Edmonton, Canada, have fenced off and surrounded a Canadian church that defied COVID-19 restrictions.

A chain link fence now surrounds GraceLife Church—a church that’s been at the center of controversy since February. Security guards and police are also patrolling the area, while police cars block entry.

GraceLife’s pastor, James Coates, was jailed for more than a month for hosting services at full capacity and without the use of masks. Coates was released on March 22, after 35 days in jail. He then resumed hosting church services, seemingly at full capacity.

James Coates
GraceLife Pastor James Coates (Source: Video screengrab)

Alberta COVID-19 restrictions permit churches to operate at 15% capacity while congregants wear masks and socially distance.

The church has consistently violated the health restrictions put in place by Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health for several months, according to a press release from Alberta Health Services released today.

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The release states that the government issued a closure order to GraceLife on January 21, requiring the church to be shuttered until “compliance with the restrictions was obtained.”

On March 27, Alberta Health Services (AHS) sent a letter to Coates, providing him with information on the continued spread of COVID and requesting a virtual meeting. According to AHS, Coates did not provide any dates to meet.

“GLC has decided not to follow these mandatory restrictions, nor have they attempted to work with AHS to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission,” the Alberta Health Services press release said.

Coates, however, maintains he’s just trying to faithfully pastor his church.

“I’m simply here in obedience to Jesus Christ, and it’s my obedience to Christ that has put me at odds with the law,” Coates told the judge in his case on March 22.

Some church members are arguing that fencing off the GraceLife equates to government-backed persecution.

“They jail your pastor for freely opening the doors of the church and serving Christ’s sheep and hurting people,” said Erin Coates, James Coates’s wife, on Instagram. “Now they’ve chained the doors of GraceLife Church enclosing in chain link fence. This is all under guise of a health order. Too bad the Church isn’t a building, it’s a blood bought people – Christ has and will prevail.”

Erin Coates said that by closing GraceLife, the Canadian government was disregarding Canada’s bill of rights and legal code. Doing so put leaders under God’s judgement, she added.

Yet others are criticizing GraceLife for continuing to host services.

“To be clear: GraceLife Church would be open right now, like other places of worship, had it followed restrictions around capacity, masking. It had months of warning,” said reporter Carrie Tait on Twitter.

“While we’re posting spicy takes everywhere, GraceLife church is not being persecuted,” said Christian blogger Sara Kellar. “This shouldn’t be a spicy take, but alas.”

After the church’s closure today, some people gathered at the church. According to Global Edmonton reporter Kim Smith, the people called media members “fascists,” “communists,” “Nazis,” and “puppets.”

Smith said people from GraceLife started showing up at the church, hugging each other and not practicing social distancing.

The closure of GraceLife follows a renewed tightening of Alberta Covid-19 restrictions, according to Premier Jason Kenney.

This tightening of restrictions happened in response to rising COVID-19 case numbers in Alberta. Many of the new cases come from variants of COVID-19, which reportedly can spread or kill faster than the original disease.

Global Edmonton Coverage of the GraceLife Controversy:

CORRECTION: An earlier version said James Coates was jailed for only two weeks, instead of more than a month.

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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44 thoughts on “Police Fence Off and Surround Canadian Church That Defied COVID-19 Restrictions”

  1. In one way this story is not funny, because you have a government thinking it needs to shutter a church and people, whoever they are, living under fear of the virus, not caution.

    In another way it is funny. Yet again the world and Man seems “offended” by the people of God so the government tries to shutter the building or arrest and punish the people and the enemy laughs…

    Unless of course the people were acting genuinely dumb and God is chastising them.

    But God…

    Then He uses it all to spread His Gospel! In spite of this preacher’s right or wrong, God’s still in control.
    :D

    People repent, and God can use them. The congregation can still meet in homes and other places and outside (under whatever “regulations” Edmonton has set), they can praise God outside the shuttered building, they can even go and pray and minister to the cops.

    God might even get some of those cops saved. It only takes a remnant, that’s all God needs.

    Lord, let it be so. Amen.

  2. This is not about ” …Man seems “offended” by the people of God so the government tries to shutter the building or arrest and punish the people…”

    Not even close.
    Crying religious persecution is getting really tired.
    So is vilification of ‘the other’ , yelling tyranny and willful contempt of our laws in a pandemic.

    Alberta is in trouble with rises in virulent strains of Covid-19, as are many parts of the world.
    Cases have jumped 27% in a week, the positivity rate is 10%.
    Alberta leads Canada with active cases and with variant cases per capita.

    This is about Christians choosing to defy others so they can have what they want.

    This is not about loving your neighbour as yourself, and politicizing this behavior doesn’t change the behaviour of the virus.

    Look at letters to The Edmonton Journal and twitter comments; Edmonton residents are fed up with GraceLife.
    Stacking online polls doesn’t convince anyone.

    Read the AHS statement,
    https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/news/releases/2021/Page15850.aspx

    Section 62.1 of the Alberta Public Health Act is not a fantasy, or the law for some but not for others.
    GraceLife has continued to transgress despite repeated attempts by Alberta Public Health to work with them .Alberta is back in State 1 because of non-compliance.

    15% of capacity at GraceLife is 94 people.
    What happened to ‘when 2 or 3 are gathered in My Name?”

    S – How dare you spiritualize by saying “God might even get some of those cops saved.” How do you know whether the officers who are sworn to uphold the law don’t know Him? You don’t.

    GraceLife will have their day in court.
    It’s been deferred from May to July

    GraceLife can reopen on their property when they agree with social distancing, masking and 15% capacity.
    Or/and when vaccinations are expedited or the virus dies down.
    Their choice.

    Let us hope these childish, selfish and silly people haven’t instigated a super spreader.

    Let’s also hope they are out of our news cycle, enough already with their representation of Canadian Christians.

    1. When was the last time you read your Bible to understand your duties towards God and your neighbor rather than your duties towards public health officers fixated on only one aspect of public health?

      1. Bryce:

        The article above is about GraceLife Church and the response of authorities.

        This isn’t a bible sword drill or a game, or a personal challenge.

        As to your direct question, “When was the last time etc…:

        Today.

        Thank you for asking.

  3. There has to be balance here. Yes, churches should take COVID seriously. At the same time, this cannot be life indefinitely. Comparative data of high masking places and low masking places show little difference in infection spread. With comparative data of places where people heavily sheltered in vs areas where people were out and about…..there seems not to be clear evidence that the sheltering has had the effect promised by authorities. This all comes to the question of how long we’re supposed to live in stasis based on the promises of governing authorities which have been wrong and contradictory repeatedly. Remember when we were told it would only be several weeks? Then I think it was several more weeks. Well, here we are in 2021.

    Additionally, in America (can’t speak for Canada), we do have a supreme law of the land. Do the freedoms protected under that supreme law evaporate in times of danger? It’s been my understanding that the supreme law is designed for dangerous times. If the restrictions of governing authorities violate that supreme law, are Christians or any other citizen in the wrong to buck against such restrictions?

    I absolutely find it unwise for any church to disregard COVID as though it’s not serious, and I understand the “love thy neighbor” principle of this situation, but I do not at all endorse this seeming willingness to toss aside an increasing amount of liberties in exchange for safety. As the days increase, governing authorities seem to only be ratcheting up its demands of citizens under the guise of stopping COVID. Now we have authorities literally suggesting people be cut off from all sorts of societal amenities until they get injected with the vaccine. While I think some churches can be rightly criticized for disregarding COVID measures, I wonder how many of those critics also acknowledge the governmental overreach taking place worldwide.

  4. Hi MM:

    Thanks for acknowledging you can’t speak for Canada and Canadian law.
    That was gracious.

    We have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    Sort version of the relevant section of fundamental freedoms:

    freedom of conscience and religion;
    freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
    freedom of peaceful assembly; and
    freedom of association.

    That is what GraceLife Church leaders, courtesy of their lawyers called The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom is standing on. JCCF is a right wing conservative group with ties to the right in the US.
    They have the perfect poster boy in James Coates.
    The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has made it very clear they want to take this case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

    One thing being lost in all this is that provincial law in this case (Alberta Public Health Act) Covid orders are finite.
    Even Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s move to Stage 1 is finite.

    These orders can be renewed, but only with reasonable public health threats and for short lengths of time.

    Alberta has had the most relaxed restrictions in Canada for Covid-19.
    As stated above, Alberta is in crisis with increased deaths and cases rising rapidly.

    In Section 1 the Charter also states that the government can limit rights, provided it can prove it’s decision is consistent with a free and democratic society.

    Short version: The restrictions have to address an important purpose, and that law is a reasonable way of doing so.

    The federal and provincial governments have a tough road in this regard: carefully considered options, limiting rights as little as possible while achieving goal. Personal freedom is weighed with public benefit.

    Yes, there must be balance.

    Do governments over reach?
    Yes.
    Is Alberta over reaching in the case of GraceLife Church?
    My argument is no.

    GraceLife Church is free to:

    hold internet services
    hold drive in services
    operate at a current 15% capacity (94 people at a time in the building) until the Covid-19 crisis eases
    Social distance and mask up

    Wanting this GraceLife closure to be a Charter violation doesn’t make it so.
    GraceLife has flagrantly and willfully violated every provincial order since last year.
    18 times Alberta Health Services attended GraceLife and noted extreme violations every time.
    And more.

    As for efficacy in sheltering/masking/sanitizing – current Canadian flu statistics indicate otherwise.
    According to the Public Health Agency of Canada we have about 43 thousand cases a year.
    This past year: 66
    Flu hospitalizations and deaths: 0

    Thousands and thousands of Christians across Canada are creatively honouring public health restrictions in their gathering, worship and service to others.

    How does GraceLife’s disobedience to Public Health orders honour Christ and His bride in a world wide pandemic we are all tired of?

    1. BD, so appreciate all you said with just plain facts and not throwing slander and nasty words their way.
      I agree with all you said.
      Another question I have through all of this is why nobody brings up the verses in Romans 13:1-2
      When the government tells us we can’t preach the gospel then that would be a problem, but the gospel is and still can go forth! It sure is where I am!

    2. Canada is creating a crisis of epic proportions for itself. While the rest of NA has been balancing freedom/exposure to the virus with aggressive distribution of the vaccines, Canada has been in an all-out lockdown, now just extended to an additional four-week stay-at-home order. So with the US moving quickly to herd immunity — maybe even by this summer, Canada is ensuring its population is unvaccinated (it has completely botched the rollout) and unexposed, which is going to cause a HUGE explosion in the virus once they start to open up. For proof of this, look at Michigan today, which also went full-lockdown early on, kept exposure rates much lower than most other states, and is now in the biggest outbreak in all of NA. To her credit, the Governor is keeping a measured reaction to this and is allowing the exposure — which is disproportionally hitting younger demographics that clearly don’t get as sick or are at significant risk of death. Instead, she has doubled-down on vaccinations and the numbers of vaccinated adults is expanding at 10X the rate of those infected. This has happened while keeping churches open, BTW. Families have been separated and isolated, religious people are being made into criminals, people in the US who own vacation homes or work in Canada are completely without options — and all this despite the fact Canada infection rates are running at less than 1/4 per capita of what is happening in the US. I should add that the other reason for the aggressive lockdowns is that the Social hospital system in Canada was almost immediately overwhelmed by COVID and it lacks the facilities to manage the outbreak. For those Canadians commenting here who love being locked up as all the unintended consequences of abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, obesity, divorce, mental illness, and suicide all skyrocket…good luck with that. GraceLife and its pastor are heroes of the faith..

      1. Hi John C:

        I agree Canada has botched things.
        Canada has also done things well.
        I would like to correct a few things you’ve said.

        Canada has not been in full lockdown. (Evoking of Emergencies Act)
        Provincial and territorial health agencies make decisions for their populations (similar to US states)
        Canada’s messaging has been consistent federally, provincially and municipally.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_COVID-19_pandemic_in_Canada

        The federal government can evoke our Emergencies Act which would last 90 days.
        Canada has a federal Quarantine Act which gives federal police (RCMP) the right to fine and imprison.
        Provinces can use municipal and provincial law enforcement to do the same thing. (ie: OPP SQ, municipal)
        Each Provincial Public Health Agency is responsible for continued mitigation efforts.

        “Canada is creating a crisis of epic proportions for itself.’

        Um, no.

        Sometimes. Vaccines for sure.
        11% of the Canadian population has had one dose.
        1.7% have had two doses.

        Epically unacceptable.

        The Canadian vaccine rollout has been pathetic.
        I am impressed with the vaccine rollout in the US. It has been a commendable effort.
        Good on you.

        1Meanwhile, in Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Yukon, vaccine rates are high.
        These are vulnerable and isolated populations.
        During the 1918 pandemic, whole communities in the north who had no contact with people were wiped out. Targeting the far north makes sense.
        Long term care homes residents, workers and families have higher vaccine rates.

        As of today Canada currently has 3 times the variant cases the US has.(1 per million US. 36 per million Canada) All 3 main Covid-19 variants are circulating in Canada.
        40% of Alberta’s current cases today are variants.

        Using the 10:1 population ratio (US/Canada) hospitals have been overwhelmed in hotspots the past year.
        That is not an issue of ‘socialized’ medicine as much as it has been population non-compliance and spread.
        Canada has 1.95 ICU beds per 1000 as compared to the US at 2.77 per 1000 persons.

        ” I should add that the other reason for the aggressive lockdowns is that the Social hospital system in Canada was almost immediately overwhelmed by COVID and it lacks the facilities to manage the outbreak.”

        Um, no.

        May I point out that Canada has lower health care costs, no financial barriers to care and superior health status compared to US.

        You have to remember Canada has distinct geographical challenges and population density challenges.
        We do not lack facilities to care for Canadians as much as we fell short with ready pandemic critical care.
        That having been said, Canadians requiring critical Covid-19 care have been cared for. Health care has been stretched to the limit, but not immediately overwhelmed, no do we lack health care workers and facilities overall. Other facilities in other regions stepped up during surges and will again.

        Canada can and must do better.

        Canada and the US closed the land border in March 2020.
        Families have been separated, US cottagers can’t cross.
        Since there were loopholes (airports) Canadian snowbirds and foreigners alike took advantage and this is an ongoing problem. The federal government hasn’t handled their responsibility (airports) well at all.

        As a Canadian I have not been denied any health care since the pandemic began.
        I have full access to my primary care physician. I have had elective surgery promptly.
        My province or region has been in and out of various stages of lockdown as surges have occurred.
        I have not gone hungry, faced shortages or been frustrated or lacked access to government services, banking etc.
        Even with Covid-19 surges in my region, I know only one person who got Covid-19 at work.
        They recovered at home and received excellent care and follow up from primary providers and public health.
        They received full financial support from their workplace.
        No one I know has died from Covid-19 or from lack of health care.

        Yes, Addiction rates have climbed in Canada.
        Access to substance abuse treatment, harm reduction services have been severely affected. Opioids are more toxic, overdose rates are high, deaths have climbed. Virtual care for addicts needing lower barrier support are ineffective. Mental health services are overwhelmed and have failed far too many.

        James Coates did not have to spend a day in jail.
        His refusal to accept release conditions are on him and him alone.
        His choices are willfully criminal.

        Mr. Jesperson is correct.

        GraceLife Church ongoing refusal to comply is on their leadership.
        That fence could come down tomorrow if…

    3. MM and BD– I appreciate your respectful responses and thoughts here. Thank you.

      It’s useful to have facts given from a Canadian perspective. I agree with the need to have balance and that there might be governments/authorities of trying to use a real pandemic to force in other agendas. As well as governmental overreach.

      It’s hard to say whether Coates is acting heroic, foolish or both.

      Yes, I was wrong to presume about the officers–some of them may be saved. Perhaps this may create conversation opportunities between any of those officers (saved or not) and GraceLife.

      As for “over-spiritualising”, this still can be seen through spiritual eyes.
      God can use ANYTHING to spread the gospel. People have mentioned Romans 13, yet 1 Peter 2 also speaks to how we are a “Chosen People” and how to live godly lives in a pagan society:

      “11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

      13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”

      It also says:
      …For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.

      Where Coates stands here, God knows.

      Discernment and a heart submitted to the Lord will help us to know if we are to submit or resist, when to endure and when we are simply acting willful.

      Like I said, God will be the ultimate judge of this.
      And His Gospel will go forth anyway.
      May we live as Daniel.

    1. https://babylonbee.com/news/uh-oh-gracelife-members-carry-horns-begin-marching-around-giant-fence-outside-their-church

      Rebel News has a 12 minute interview with James Coates.

      Coates sees this as a platform to further the gospel.
      The church and it’s lawyers are shocked that the government enforced the law but he’s thrilled because he believes Public Health is fighting God.

      Short version:

      Democracy is dying!
      There is underlying agendas!
      Take your province back!
      Take off your mask at Costco!
      Pressure your MLAs and Premier!
      Return to your normal life!
      Hurry or life will never be normal again!

      His appeal is individualistic, and it’s about your civil liberties, not the greater good.
      We haven’t had Covid!
      Accept Christ and if you die from Covid-19 it’s all good!
      Politicians are deceived!
      We aren’t going to be sliced and diced by mainstream state run media!
      We don’t get a fair hearing so we won’t give them our time!

      God is mixed in with his politics, it’s a JMac fanboy fear based hot mess.

  5. Andrew Simpson

    I’m confused by the two sentences: “GraceLife’s pastor, James Coates, was jailed for two weeks for hosting services at full capacity and without the use of masks. Coates was released on March 22 after 35 days in jail.” 35 days is more than two weeks?

  6. On the Other Hand

    Churches aren’t thinking. They could get police escort, meet elbow-to-elbow at full capacity without masks, and be lauded by media if they advertised the service was for anti-racist prayer. “Anti-racist” meetings, protests, and riots are naturally immune to c-virus–science says so.

    1. On the other hand, our politicans are also immune to following the same rules as the serfs. Look at how many have apologized when they got caught. It is happening all over the world now.

    2. On The Other Hand says “They could get police escort, meet elbow-to-elbow at full capacity without masks”: Do you have evidence of this ever happening in recent past protesting? All the images of those I saw… yes people were pretty close together sometimes (not something I’d recommend) but they weren’t maskless. Do you have links to real pictures (not doctored by right-wing media) that show what you’re claiming?

  7. We talk about not putting our Chrisitan leaders on pedestals but then turn around to put Government on that pedestal. Both should be questioned rationally and both need to answer the questions rationally.

    1. I will say this again, Paul straight from Romans 13:

      “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
      6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

      It is quite clear to me that the only problems here is that a narcissistic jerk is drawing attention to himself by disobeying health laws and the Word of God through Paul. Having government officials who do the same is a different issue and is not what this story is about. Acting stupid in a pandemic is just plain stupid no matter who does it.

      In posts like these I see a bunch of personal opinions being thrown around as if they were authoritative without bending our knees to what has already been written. I challenge you Kay and anyone else to give a good logical defense of why these verse in Romans do not apply to this situation.

      1. I have another one for you:

        Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household, to give the others their food at the proper time? 46Blessed is that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

        48But suppose that servant is wicked and says in his heart, ‘My master will be away a long time.’ 49And he begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50The master of that servant will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not anticipate. 51Then he will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

        It’s becoming more and more obvious that the COVID pandemic and panic are being used by liberal Christians to avoid meeting and depart from church. Do it and leave us in peace.

        1. And your typical fashion, you completely ignore the context of that particular passage in the Gospels.

          And you have a straw-man argument about avoiding meeting as well.

          1. I didn’t at all. Jesus was just speaking to the pharisees and then he turned to his disciples and followers. Here’s Matthew Henry’s commentary:

            [3.] That the children of this world are thus wise in their generation, that, when they know of a danger approaching, they will keep awake, and stand on their guard against it. This he shows in a particular instance, Matt. 24:43. If the master of a house had notice that a thief would come such a night, and such a watch of the night (for they divided the night into four watches, allowing three hours to each), and would make an attempt upon his house, though it were the midnight-watch, when he was most sleepy, yet he would be up, and listen to every noise in every corner, and be ready to give him a warm reception. Now, though we know not just when our Lord will come, yet, knowing that he will come, and come quickly, and without any other warning than what he hath given in his word, it concerns us to watch always. Note, First, We have every one of us a house to keep, which lies exposed, in which all we are worth is laid up: that house is our own souls, which we must keep with all diligence. Secondly, The day of the Lord comes by surprise, as a thief in the night. Christ chooses to come when he is least expected, that the triumphs of his enemies may be turned into the greater shame, and the fears of his friends into the greater joy. Thirdly, If Christ, when he comes, finds us asleep and unready, our house will be broken up, and we shall lose all we are worth, not as by a thief unjustly, but as by a just and legal process; death and judgment will seize upon all we have, to our irreparable damage and utter undoing. Therefore be ready, be ye also ready; as ready at all times as the good man of the house would be at the hour when he expected the thief: we must put on the armour of God, that we may not only stand in that evil day, but, as more than conquerors, may divide the spoil.

            (2.) Because the issue of our Lord’s coming will be very happy and comfortable to those that shall be found ready, but very dismal and dreadful to those that shall not, Matt. 24:45 This is represented by the different state of good and bad servants, when their lord comes to reckon with them. It is likely to be well or ill with us to eternity, according as we are found ready or unready at that day; for Christ comes to render to every man according to his works. Now this parable, with which the chapter closes, is applicable to all Christians, who are in profession and obligation God’s servants; but it seems especially intended as a warning to ministers; for the servant spoken of is a steward. ,

            While the passage I quoted is intended especially for ministers, it applies to all Christians (“servants”) as everyone of us has a house to keep as Matthew Henry explains. This suggests your understanding is superficial. Obviously, reviling ministers for conducting worship is a form of beating fellow servants. Revilers will not enter the kingdom.

            Romans 13 has never been regarded by the Christian church as requiring unconditional obedience to the magistrate. He is “for our good” and “to punish evil.” His office has a scope. Outside the scope of his office, we have no obligation to obey him though we might for wrath’s sake. Public health is within the scope of the magistrate’s office, but a full accounting of public health requires fellowship with other people since we are social animals. There have been many studies on this. What studies show the costs and benefits of public health of limiting public worship to 15% of building capacity? I don’t just mean viral outbreak, but also mental health, suicidality and drinking? Are the same standards being applied to big box stores?

            Leaving aside the issue of physical health, has the magistrate looked at the effects of spiritual health? What good is it to protect the body but kill the spirit that animates the body? Many church members are feeling extremely depressed by these restrictions. Isn’t the minister obligated to consider the magistrate AND the spiritual health of his flock AND his obligations to declare God’s Word? If so, then those who come in wielding Romans 13 are really only looking at a fraction of the minister’s duties.

        2. Mr. Jesperson

          I agree with CM. You come across as a man more concerned with paranoid politics from the right than from anything the the Bible actually tells us to do. That quote of yours is about Christians treating other Christians right, especially when you are the guy in charge! It has nothing to do with making some lame excuse not to obey Romans 13. Some one already pointed out that Nero was in charge when Paul wrote that. Our government leaders are orders of magnitude more benign that Nero.

          You come across as someone without compassion for anything other than your own calls to rebellious freedom. The scriptures tell us to not do anything that harms others. Taking some basic and reasonable health precautions are not some kind of huge burden for guys like you to bellyache constantly about…

        3. Bryce what in the world are you talking about? The only thing Covid has stopped anyone from doing is gathering in buildings in large numbers.

          I’m curious what makes you think this situation is about liberal Christians walking away from church meetings in buildings Do you have any studies to prove that is the case?

          what do you think early Christians did under Nero when he was rounding them up and killing them? They met quietly in smaller groups in homes and secret places.

          Covid is not the problem. The problem is thinking that meeting in a building with a pulpit and a preacher is the only way one can follow Jesus. It isn’t. Find a way to meet with believers on zoom, or in small home groups. Don’t give in to fear. This too shall pass.

  8. Kay,

    Another thing is _if_ a church, pastor, or person wants to practice civil disobedience (as they see it), they need to accept the consequences of their actions. Those civil rights leaders were willingly jailed for their civil disobedience and accepted it gladly. Not so with a media whore like Coates.

    The problem in Coates’s case, is that there is not much legal precedent for his actions to speak of. If the case was in the US, he would be _worse_ off, since SCOTUS precedent would be against him. In which case, he would probably rant how “The Deep State” is out to get him, much like his former Cheeto Jesus in the White House.

  9. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/canada/

    Coronavirus Cases:
    1,032,945

    Deaths:
    23,201

    (1032945-23201)/1032945*100
    97.75

    Is the church to submit to the government’s attempts to close the church doors because of a virus that has a 98% recovery rate?

    When this first started and the ESTIMATES were catastrophic, I would’ve said yes. But now that we know the real DATA, I say firmly, NO.

    1. For starters, no ever said in government that the church could NOT have it services. So your question is disingenuous at BEST. All they asked was that they limit capacity to 15% of occupancy rating of the building.

      To use your analogy, what is the probability a lethal, fast-moving fire will break out in the church building causing injuries or death? I would say far lower than getting and dying of COVID. To use your logic, then the church should not submit to the occupancy limits of the building (and the other fire code requirements) required by the local and provincial governments.

      I would love to see your logical reasoning and Biblical justification for ignoring occupancy limit _but_ not the other.

    2. I urge you to not take this virus lightly. Death is not the only concern.

      “One in three COVID-19 survivors suffer from a neurological or mental disorder within six months of infection, according to a University of Oxford-led study looking mostly at American patients.

      “The scariest part are people who didn’t have either COVID symptoms or very mild COVID symptoms that resolved, or prior psychiatric known illnesses, they too are at risk for the anxiety and the depression.”

      https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-survivors-neurological-mental-disorder-study-oxford/

  10. Bryce,

    I cannot speak about the specifics about Canada, but here in the US the occupancy limits for indoor social gatherings is the same (whether churches, mosques, synagogues, sports bars, restaurants, retail stores, etc.). IOW that 15% occupancy limitation would apply to other human fellowship locations and types. Second, both in Canada and in the US, there is no such restriction of occupancy in OUTDOOR settings as long as social distancing is maintained. Many of these so-called shepherds of the flock want fewer or NO restrictions compared to everybody else.

    One more thing, all of this is NOTHING NEW. Similar restrictions were done during the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic. But I guess Christians back then seemed to remember the Golden Rule about how you treat your neighbors was more important than being inconvenienced. Coates’s ego and playing the persecution card is more important than how well you treat your neighbors (and to make it painfully obvious to you, read up on the Parable of Good Samaritan on whom Christ considers to be your neighbor).

    1. I cannot speak about the specifics about Canada, but here in the US the occupancy limits for indoor social gatherings is the same (whether churches, mosques, synagogues, sports bars, restaurants, retail stores, etc.).

      If you can’t speak to the specifics of Canada, then why are you commenting on the treatment of a Canadian pastor? By your own admission, you don’t know enough.

      One more thing, all of this is NOTHING NEW. Similar restrictions were done during the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic.

      There were also huge disagreements about the restrictions back then. Since you and I weren’t alive in 1918, we know very little about what happened then. You “know” what the press tells you. You don’t know how ministers responded. You don’t know what Christians thought of the restrictions. You don’t know how long the restrictions went on. Social distancing was invented last decade.

      1. Bryce,

        There are more than just press accounts about the 1918 Pandemic, there are police records, church records, various government and medical archives, personal letters and journals, surviving audio recordings from survivors made when they were still alive, and so on.

        So YES we do have a good idea, A cursory search for both books written on the 1918 Pandemic and other primary sources shows this. By your same logic, neither us was alive during WWI, so we very little about what happened then or peoples’ thought about that either. Your argument is completely invalid.

        WRONG AGAIN.

        1. But you don’t know the specifics of what’s going on in Canada right now. How much less can you discern what went on 100 years ago?

      2. one judge out in California declared that face mask mandates were unconstitutional back then. a study claimed that since deaths dropped about mask mandates that mask work the problem is that by the time they were implemented most who would have died mostly World War I vets had already died from the flu. do not forget how many WWI vets for health reasons had to move to Arizona due to the lung damage they experienced from the chemical weapons that both sides developed to fight the war.

  11. the BEAST (STATE) is using a cold virus to make war against Jesus Christ and his faithful Church. the BEAST is demanding that all declare that Caesar is lord and worship him by taking his mask the face diaper.

    1. Wesley,

      I have something to help with your problem in the link below:

      https://www.reynoldsbrands.com/products/aluminum-foil/heavy-duty-foil

      You do realize that cold viruses (rhinoviruses) are genetically and structurally different than COVID-19 (coronavirues) do you? If not, then I really should ask if you think you having relations with a female gorilla is the same as having relations with your wife (a human), since you seem to confused about 2 different viruses. After all both are primates right?,

      1. prior to the Covid “pandemic” there were four coronaviruses that were known to cause the common cold. winter is known as cold/flu season not summer when the rhinovirus is dominate where as other coronaviruses are typically winter viruses. why are we treating this particular virus different from well known coronaviruses? why are we following the CCP’s lead in dealing with this virus after they tried for months to hide what was going on in Wuhan to begin with? Taiwan did so much better than most of the world because they focused on what the Chinese were censoring not so much on what they were telling the world.

  12. Sigh…

    I wish their was far less paranoia about the government, which is God’s instrument and which He has certainly not lost control over, and more interest in people calling themselves Christians to fear God in the pandemic by doing things that are reasonable. God calls none of us to be total fools and we are not called to test God on common sense issues. We see the Devil doing this to Jesus and we know what Jesus’ answer to that was.

    Masks are used in hospitals for good reason for a long time. If the doctors and nurses choose an anti-mask crusade then more people would get sick and die and their would be more lawsuits for malpractice. What I see going on is malpractice in the place of “Christian” leadership. It is like the Devil is calling us to throw ourselves off of that tower and, unlike Jesus, we are gladly doing that while blasphemously using God’s Name claiming He wants that. It is our pride and stubbornness, unwilling to change to fit new realities in the world, which is making the church look bad. It is not persecution to look out for the safety of your flock, not wanting the old and weak to die. But gosh so many get so mad over a stupid mask or social distancing that they start crying persecution! The reality is much more stupider than that. All that said I am glad the authorities in this case did what they did. They have far more common sense than the white-washed septic tank narcissist jerk “pastor.”

  13. There might be trouble at or near the GraceLife property Sunday.

    RCMP are stepping up their traffic enforcement (increased presence) around the area..

    A convoy of various people are heading from Calgary north to Edmonton Sunday. It is known that far-right adherents have protested against James Coates arrest, and the latest closure has their attention.
    As well, the usual anti-lockdown, covid-deniers, anti-maskers, and anti-government types, are urging attendance. There have been threats online about tearing down the fence.

    A national broadcast crew had to have security this week outside the church- they were cursed at etc.
    Locals told them the trouble makers were not from the area.

    GraceLife has called for peace, but their refusal to comply with provincial guidelines has become a nucleus for hate groups and propagandists.

    It’s -2C and snowing in Edmonton.
    I doubt that will deter tomorrows incoming supporters.
    It will be a balmy 5C Sunday.

    GraceLife Church – sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

  14. From a tweet: Dr. MacArthur read a letter from James Coates & said GraceLife is meeting today in an undisclosed location, commenting on the “underground church in Canada.”

    Um no.

    They are meeting offsite, but hardly underground.
    Gracelife leaders and congregation continue to defy orders.

    Hundreds of protesters have shown up at the property.
    Predictably just about every fringe group is there, including known hate group leaders.

    James Coates apparently called a few and asked them not to come.
    “With all due respect Pastor Coates, this is bigger than you are.”
    So there they are.

    Protesters started tearing down the fence around Gracelife property.
    Other protesters put it back up. Because Canada.

  15. I think the Canadian authorities are really overreaching with this one… I mean, first: that’s a little church… I can’t see their influence being that much (at least not before this kerfufffle) Second: you generally don’t win in the end when you make a martyr of your opponent…

    But, setting all that aside for a moment… That church… looks like a warehouse… (again if the authorities were smarter, they’d let this itty bitty player in the church “market” stay as obscure as they were before covid.

  16. Here in the U.S., the city of Burbank, California just did the same thing to a restaurant that has repeatedly and flagrantly violated basic health and safety regulations in the pandemic.

    If this church repeatedly and flagrantly violated health rules, it was endangering people and deserved to be shut down. Looks like it was, and looks like they had ample warning from authorities and just decided to defy the law and be jerks.

    I have no sympathy for those who put others at needless risk. Doesn’t matter if it’s a church, a restaurant, or any other venue. Scripture tells us to obey the government in authority over us. Following basic safety measure in this pandemic is not that difficult, and the requirement to do so certainly isn’t persecution.

  17. This is the letter James Coates wrote to Grace Community church.
    Hard to say who is getting praised more with all the flowery language, God or MacArthur.

    To Grace Community Church, which is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

    Grace to you and peace in Him. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has superabundantly glorified Himself through you.

    For decades, you have been a strong and steadfast pillar and support of the truth, so much so, the Lord established many other beacons of truth throughout this world as a direct result of your ministry. You have exemplified a profound love for the brethren, warm service and hospitality, and an undeniable love for God and His Word.

    In fact, His Word has sounded forth from you with such power and precision, that the fruit of your ministry is absolutely immeasurable this side of Heaven. Pastor John’s 52 years of faithful ministry is as much a testimony to you as it is to him. May God richly reward you for your faithfulness.

    Thank you for the way you cared for me, my family, and congregation during my imprisonment. Your love and prayerful support were vital to our steadfastness in the face of suffering. The letter from the elders was an immense encouragement. The support from Dr. Nathan Busenitz and The Master’s Seminary was both humbling and strengthening. And the pastoral care provided by Pastor John was incredibly comforting. It was also a rich blessing to receive letters from a number of you while imprisoned. Those letters provided necessary fuel for my resolve.

    My wife Erin also sends her greetings and thankfulness. She was and continues to be greatly strengthened by your letters. You poured into her early in her spiritual development and you are pouring into her now, as well.

    You have suffered well for the gospel. It is an indescribable blessing to join you in that suffering. Our congregations have been counted worthy for this purpose. May we rejoice in this, as did the apostles in their sufferings. Jesus Christ is the sovereign Lord over all creation and the supreme head of the Church. We will bow to Him and Him alone. Only He is worthy.

    And now may He continually strengthen you unto all faithfulness and may He constantly radiate His honor and glory through you. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

    —James Coates

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