Officials in Alberta, Canada, shut down a church that broke coronavirus restrictions by erecting chain-link metal fencing around the building.
“This is what happens when you have freedom of religion in a free and democratic society: they jail your pastor for freely opening the doors of the church and serving Christ’s sheep and hurting people. Now they’ve chained the doors of GraceLife Church enclosing in chain link fence,” an Instagram post from Erin Coates, the wife of pastor James Coates, reads.
Police and health officials blocked off the roads surrounding GraceLife Church on Wednesday morning and erected the fencing. It is the first time that Canadian officials forcibly had to close a church during the pandemic.
“Alberta Health Service (AHS) physically closed GraceLife Church (GLC) and has prevented access to the building until GLC can demonstrate the ability to comply with Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health’s restrictions,” Alberta Health Services said in a statement. “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 church was first ordered to close on Jan. 19, but James Coates did not comply with the province’s demands.
He was charged in February for violating coronavirus public health orders. He was then jailed for about a month and refused to agree to the bail conditions that stipulated that his services had to follow public health orders.