Canadian religious leaders are being arrested and having their churches shuttered for the great sin of violating coronavirus restrictions.
American Christians, this is your wake-up call.
Canada is currently under varying degrees of lockdown ostensibly to slow the spread of coronavirus, and law enforcement officials in some places have been coming down hard on those who refuse to remain isolated and trapped at home indefinitely.
But the worst crackdowns have been on Christian pastors and congregations caught in the legal crosshairs despite the implied protections under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In February, Pastor James Coates was jailed and his GraceLife Church near Edmonton, Alberta, was soon closed for noncompliance with COVID-19 restrictions. Officials blocked the roads and erected a fence around the church to keep the faithful out.
Earlier this month, Pastor Artur Pawlowski and his brother Dawid were arrested in the middle of a busy street for the crime of “inciting” people to worship at the Calgary, Alberta, Street Church.
And on Sunday, Pastor Tim Stephens was arrested and his Fairview Baptist Church ordered closed because authorities said he repeatedly violated Alberta Health Services’ COVID-19 restrictions, the Calgary Herald reported.
Police had previously warned the pastor about the limits on worship, but that day — armed with newly granted authority to enforce AHS rules — cops waited outside the church to take him into custody following the late morning service.
American Pastor Greg Locke shared a photo of Stephens with his family just before he was whisked away by police.
“Another Pastor in Calgary, Tim Stephens, praying with his family just before he’s hauled off to jail for keeping his church open,” Locke wrote.
“WAKE UP CHURCH!!! This is only the beginning,” he warned in a Monday tweet.
Another Pastor in Calgary, Tim Stephens, praying with his family just before he’s hauled off to jail for keeping his church open. WAKE UP CHURCH!!! This is only the beginning. pic.twitter.com/ooYSsXBjKG
— Pastor Greg Locke (@pastorlocke) May 17, 2021
Stephens was charged with “organizing an illegal in-person gathering, with inciting or inviting others to meet illegally and with promoting an illegal gathering” according to the Herald, and was released Monday while he awaits a hearing next month.
The Fairview Baptist Church had been operating for months in violation of the rules, hosting more than the allowed 15 people at its services, and neighbors from the surrounding area lodged several complaints with authorities that resulted in multiple fines along the way.
“It’s heartening that after a long period of waiting and advocacy, the leadership is being held accountable and the facility is being shut,” lifelong resident Ken Lima-Coelho crowed following Stephens’ arrest.
“The last thing we need is a super-spreader in our neighborhood,” he said.
The man also said that his 13-year-old daughter was scared just to walk past the church, a revelation that hints at the utter hysteria that has gripped some Canadians.
In a statement on the church’s website earlier this month, Stephens said his congregation’s commitment to standing against restrictions was “borne out of theological commitments to the Lordship of Christ and his instruction to the church as revealed in Scripture.”
“This, above all, is the reason why we have been gathering and will continue to gather,” he said a little more than a week before the arrest.
Stephens and other pastors like him have pushed back against the tyrants in their government — and have paid the price for doing so as authorities increasingly target them.
But the sobering fact about what’s happening in Canada is that this will eventually find its way into America if leftists have their way here.
Even with First Amendment protections in our Constitution, many officials succeeded in closing churches under government orders, even if those closures were ultimately overturned or rescinded.
Whether intentional or not, the pandemic may have served as a dress rehearsal for the coming persecution that now has a framework and ready-made game plan already in place.
Prior to March 2020, most Americans would have found it unthinkable that the government would succeed in grinding their lives to a halt, that their freedoms would be stripped away and most of all that their churches would be closed with so little resistance.
Those of us who are Roman Catholic have become especially disillusioned with the way our bishops so easily rolled over and gave away our right to receive the sacraments.
The pinnacle of Catholic worship is the reception of the Holy Eucharist, which we believe is the actual body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ — and our leaders simply complied with government officials, no questions asked.
Now that churches have reopened in many places, the faithful have to watch their priests take more care in slathering on hand sanitizer between communicants than they ever did when handling the Blessed Sacrament itself.
As people in hospitals and nursing homes died without receiving their last rites, unable to offer up their final confession before heading off to their judgment, church leaders did nothing about it.
And now, the few of us who have come back to in-person worship are soured by the bitter realization that many of our shepherds will gladly give away our rights with just the slightest political pressure or whiff of public fear.
While it appears our nation is emerging from the draconian lockdowns and shifting back into normalcy again, it’s only a matter of time before the next pandemic or national emergency comes along.
Churches may be deemed not racially diverse enough, or the government may label churches that believe in the biblical view of marriage and gender as hate groups that must be shut down for public safety.
When that happens, there will hopefully be more courageous leaders like Stephens who are willing to stand up for Christians and against these tyrants.
What’s happening in Canada will make its way here when our social fabric and faith have deteriorated enough.
Leftists now have the tools, knowledge and practical experience to shut down worship whenever they please — all they need is the next excuse.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.