A Canadian church was locked up last weekend following a court order, prohibiting the congregation to hold an in-person service on Sunday.
Trinity Bible Chapel was forced to hold an online service on May 2 after Judge John Krawchenko granted a temporary injunction, in connection with the request of Ontario's attorney general to close the church, True North reported.
The order was confirmed by the office of the attorney general.
"The Court granted interim relief in the form of an Order directing the Sheriff to lock the doors of the Church on a time limited basis. The doors were ordered to be locked, before midnight May 1, 2021, for one week," the spokesperson told the news outlet.
The closure was relative to the church's alleged violation on Apr. 25, wherein law enforcement and police officers observed hundreds of vehicles inside the church parking lot, breaking the imposed capacity limits.
According to CBC News, the church was also found in contempt of orders issued on Jan. 22 and Apr. 16 for the same accusation.
Currently, the province limits in-door services to only 10 individuals on houses of worship.
Lisa Bildy, the church's lawyer, was saddened by the order, saying that people only wanted "to worship in person." She added that the congregants did not mean to disrespect the authorities and the court order, but that they are only "deeply convicted people."
In a statement on the church's website, Senior Pastor Jacob Reaume criticized the decision.
"Today, a court granted the Province of Ontario the authority to take our facility, at least until next Saturday, with the option of trying to get it for longer by going to court once again this coming week," he said.
The pastor proceeded, questioning the order given the small number of people infected in the region, with only 588 active COVID cases in Waterloo from its 600,000 population.
"I'm not saying we'll never bury someone who dies of COVID. I'm not saying COVID hasn't brought harm. I'm only saying our experience doesn't line up with the hysteria whipped up by government and media, nor do the numbers warrant turning control of the Bride of Christ over to the Premier of Ontario," Reaume argued.
"The purpose of this seizure is to prevent us from meeting as a church. They believe that we will continue meeting in our facility, no matter the fines or the public shame heaped on us. We are willing to pay any price necessary to worship our Saviour because He is worth it," the pastor further stated.
Cara Zwibel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said that religious freedom, protected by the constitution, is interpreted by the courts in accordance with a person's "sincerely held beliefs."
"If I am someone who sincerely believes that practising my religion requires me to be in a congregation with a group of worshipers, than generally the court will take me at my word," Zwibel added.
The decision whether to keep the church's door locked next Sunday will be decided by the court later this week.