1. What's Happening?
This persistent facade that started with a seemingly innocent command to lockdown for two weeks and “slow the spread of Covid” has spiralled out of control and is infecting the nation with all-encompassing chaos. This is perhaps most evident by the persecution of sacred intuitions in this country.
Pastor James Coates’ church, GraceLife, has now been charged and summoned by our national police force to court.* Not only is GraceLife's pastor incarcerated having committed no crime, but now they too must present themselves before a judge on May 5th to try and justify their obedient actions. The charge against them that tarnishes the legitimacy of our judicial system is a “persistent violation of a public health order—” particularly, conducting in-person church services beyond the 15% capacity threshold. The persecution of Pastor Coates has resulted in an exponential growth in congregant attendance, with services being filled to the doors. Of course, according to the government, this is illegal.
But it's not as though the church is harassed only by government. On the contrary, the comments regarding GraceLife's resolve to remain open are met with hostility by many people:**
“Let them go to church, and once the service is underway, seal the building from the outside. If they want to be at church that badly, let them - but with the understanding that the church will be their home for the next 40 days for quarantining. If nobody gets the virus in that time, they can be released from the church. If cases of the virus arise inside the church during the quarantine period, then the church will effectively become a COVID ward. If Grace Church members don't mind the prospect of contracting the virus, then let them mingle in an environment which they cannot escape from and healthy outsiders won't be accidentally exposed to.”
“This is not about protecting free speech, this is about self-righteous stupid behaviour.”
“Each person attending this church service should be fined for each church service attended. There is no excuse for arbitrarily ignoring health regulations.”
How did this happen? How is it that, nurtured from a two-week shutdown, we are presently arrested and imprisoned for preaching in person, hated, banned from visiting seniors in homes, and ridiculed for refusing to wear a mask?
2. A Rejection of God
It is one of the cherished miracles of modern history that western governments recognized, and guaranteed in their constitutions, the supremacy of the Christian God. This acknowledgement of God’s authority simultaneously requires an adherence to the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture. Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, not unlike America’s Declaration of Independence, declares as a foundation of all subsequent laws and legislation that “…Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.”*** We are convinced this inclusion of Christ is the predominant variable that blesses western civilization with the quality of life, rights, and extraordinary blessing that it, unlike so many other nations, enjoys.
But this written exaltation of God and his perfect law has been conveniently forgotten. Where our governments once trembled and feared the Lord God, He is now forsaken and dismissed. Constructed in His place is a constitutional Moloch of subjectivism and post-modern ideals whereby our leaders are its priests, and wickedness is its worship. Evil is permitted and encouraged as long as it doesn’t threaten the stability of high office, and the commands of objective right and wrong have become encrypted codes. So evident is this perversion of justice that our leaders, astonishingly, have dared justified the arrest of Pastor Coates and charging the church, by quoting Scripture.*`
It is therefore no surprise we are subject to a rampant bureaucracy. The unwritten constitution our leaders follow is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of man. Thus they have assumed the throne reserved for God and legislate while defining a moral law. Man's sinful spirit is uncaged, free to play, and we suffer because of it.
3. A Medical Oligarchy
It would be one thing if this deviation from divinity were confined to the members of executive office. But the rejection of God in government is a spreading virus that has permeated down into the depths of bureaucracy and infected multiple levels of jurisdiction like healthcare.
Here in Alberta, Canada, our medical services are overseen and administered by the Orwellian institution, “AHS” (Alberta Health Services). Their prerogative is “promoting wellness and providing health care services across the province,” and their values are “compassion, accountability, respect, excellence and safety.”``
As a consequence, this is what’s happened with AHS and GraceLife Church:*``
In November 2020, Alberta’s unelected Chief Medical Officer issued an order that restricted church gatherings to 15% of total capacity. James Coates and the congregants of GraceLife Church courageously concluded that this law would prevent them from obediently serving the Lord their God. Thus, committing no offence according to any scripture, they opened the church and remained open. Almost immediately, AHS inspectors, no doubt promoting “compassion, accountability, respect, excellence and safety,” investigated services. They were not there to listen to the peaceful message of Christ, but to record the activities and actions of unlawful congregants and pastors. Obscene scandals like talking with one another without masks, sitting next to friends, and singing songs with adoration were carefully documented and submitted by AHS as harmful and illegal. After GraceLife further refused to cease preaching in person, AHS filed a court application to enforce the restrictions and arrest Pastor Coates if necessary. As the western world now knowns, in a determined struggle of the wills, Coates refused to bow down to the idol of healthcare, and was arrested. But the battle didn't end with his arrest. GraceLife's faithfulness to continue meeting has invoked the ire of AHS who have responded with a summons to court.
The vitriol AHS directs against GraceLife, while all other businesses opened to capacity are left alone, is damning evidence opposing the purported neutrality of our medical system. Instead of looking to an objective standard of law, health inspectors officers have determined what’s right according to personal preference. They have discovered justice within themselves and are resolute in ensuring all fall in line with their crusade of salvation.
Therefore, as a community, I think it is vital that we protest, vocalize these concerns, and refuse to capitulate to what’s wrong. Let us ensure that Members of Parliament who legislate laws are held accountable for what they pass. We are thankful for our democracy (if we can trust the voting system) because it ensures that no individual possesses absolute power—it equips the nation with a precious firewall dispersing power among the many so the few cannot subject the majority to tyranny. We must be vigilant to make certain it returns to justice, and the government, and us, to Christ.
*News article here
**Comments available here
*** From Canadian Department of Justice
`` From Alberta Health Services
*` Link to our Premier's justification of the imprisonment here
*``All information in the proceeding paragraph available at the JCCF