A Canadian Pastor is reportedly the latest victim of "lockdownism" for being imprisoned in maximum security for violating coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
The Blaze, in its report, asked why are criminals being let out of prison while pastors are being put in and at maximum security at that.
James Coates, the said pastor, is the leader of Canada's GraceLife Church. He was fined, arrested, and then put in maximum security, as per The Blaze.
The Blaze cited a discussion on the topic held at Glenn TV by Glenn Beck and Rebel News Founder Ezra Levant who noticed a trend wherein government officials seem to be "picking on" Christians during the lockdown. He said this trend, whom he called "lockdownism," is becoming a new kind of religion that might lead to more persecution in the future.
According to Christianity Today, Coates resumed worship over the summer and has met with his congregation every Sunday "without incident." This was after holding livestreamed worship services for several months due to the pandemic.
The worship services continued on site despite being constantly warned by authorities that attendance should not exceed 15% of their venue's capacity, wearing of masks, and implementation of social distancing requirements set by the authorities in Alberta.
In December GraceLife was fined $1,200 before it was found in violation again last February 14 for holding the worship services again on site.
Coates turned himself in in compliance to the authorities' order, and was arrested, according to the CBC report, on charges of contravening the Public Health Act and refusing the undertaking. He twice refused to agree to the conditions of his release -- to stop holding church services as ordered.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commander explained that they have no intention to suppress religious freedom but to only implement health restrictions in line with the pandemic.
"(Our objective) is not to interrupt church services, prohibit services, nor deny peoples' right to practise their religion-merely to ensure that public health restrictions are adhered to while doing so," the commander said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Christianity Today pointed out what the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms said that it defends the freedom of conscience and religion, being fundamental freedom but it also acknowledges "reasonable limits" to these freedom as defined in the law "as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society."
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney clarified that no one should be fined or sanctioned for preaching or gathering in worship. He said there are many religious communities who "gather in congregational worship within the safe guidelines laid out by Alberta Health" just like the one recently held by Catholics during Ash Wednesday.
"The suggestion that Alberta has any restriction on preaching is completely false. Under Alberta law, no one has been or will be fined or sanctioned for preaching. Anybody in Alberta can preach their faith and, and religious communities are encouraged to gather in congregational worship within the safe guidelines laid out by Alberta Health," Kenney said in his Facebook account.
Coates, for his part, entrusts himself to the Lord and said that what he did - refusing to stop holding worship services - is done in obedience to Jesus.
"I'm doing what I'm doing in obedience to Christ. I am quite content to let the Lord Jesus Christ himself decide whether or not this is persecution," Coates said in his February 14 sermon, the Edmonton Journal reported.
Christians are urged to pray for Pastor James Coates' freedom.