Ohio state legislators on Tuesday introduced a new resolution calling on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to add Canada to its watch list of countries over the jailing of Canadian Pastor Artur Pawlowski, who has been jailed for almost a month.
Pawlowski has been confined at the Calgary Remand Centre for three weeks after he addressed a “Freedom Convoy” protest blockade along the U.S.-Canada border between Alberta and Montana. Pawlowski’s brother, Dawid, was also arrested Wednesday for allegedly breaching his bail conditions, Rebel News reported.
The resolution, introduced by Republican state representatives Reggie Stoltzfus and Timothy Ginter, was co-sponsored by 11 other members of the legislature, appealing to the historic legacy of religious liberty in Canada and the United States as a basis of their condemnation for the Canadian government’s treatment of religious clergy.
The legislators echo a call from Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) who sent a letter to the USCIRF last June urging the organization to add Canada to its watch list, which he wrote after Pastor Tim Stephens of Calgary was arrested for a second time for holding an outdoor church gathering.
“The United States keeps a designation of folks who are religious liberty violators, nations that are religious liberty violators," said Hawley in an interview with Rebel News at CPAC. "I've called for Canada to be put on that list, and I think that we need to consider all of the options that are available for that.”
Canadian pastors and churches have faced strict actions by the government, including jail and fines, for their refusal to follow Canadian lockdowns and restrictions.
"We, the members of the House of Representatives of the 134th General Assembly of the State of Ohio, have taken note of the abuses of religious liberty that have gone on throughout the Provinces of Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic," the resolution reads, Fox News reported.
The resolution cited the ongoing treatment of Pastor Artur Pawlowski, who along with his brother have been repeatedly arrested after he refused to limit church attendance, as he was ordered to by a court.
The resolution also condemned the Canadian government’s treatment of Pastor James Coates in Edmonton, who was the first Canadian clergyman to be jailed in the name of public health when he was imprisoned for more than a year for refusing to close his church.
As detailed by the publication, the resolution also referred to Pastor Tobias Tissen of Steinbach, Manitoba, who was arrested last October for holding church services in violation of provincial lockdown orders.
The lawmakers denounced Canada’s Bill C-4, which has drawn protests from around 5,000 Canadian and American churches, whose pastors condemned the legislation on Jan. 16. The legislation carries a potential five-year jail sentence for counselling that refuses to affirm homosexuality and transgender identity.
“This act is overly broad in scope and has potential negative implications for religious liberties and expression, including a prison sentence of up to five years for merely expressing a biblical view of marriage, thus restricting the ability of religious leaders from expressing sincerely held religious beliefs on marriage and sexuality,” the resolution said.