Yesterday, Superior Court Justice Bruce Thomas issued penalties for the Church of God in Aylmer, Ontario. Pastor Henry Hildebrant is facing $10,000 in fines for hosting regular service in spite of COVID restrictions limiting religious gatherings to 10 people indoors. The church, found guilty of contempt, is now looking at $35,000 in fines and is to be locked until COVID restrictions from the provincial government allow 30 per cent capacity indoors.
In the church's livestream of local police locking the doors, the congregation can be seen inside worshiping as officers enter the building.
“Another sad day in Canadian history. This afternoon we [the congregation of the Church of God at Aylmer] were ordered to vacate the building where we have met for decades to worship our Lord. To God be the glory, He is worthy of all our praise.”
Pastor Henry Hildebrant posted his remarks on Twitter in response to Justice Thomas' ruling against the church.
Indepenent MP Derek Sloan, who represents the riding of Hastings-Leonnox and Addington, also raised concerns on the issue of religious freedom.
“We are all less free because of this despicable abuse of power,” Sloan said.
Former conservative, now independent, MPP Randy Hillier, who also represents a riding in the Kingston area, had some strong words to describe the ordeal.
“Words are difficult to find to describe as Black Shirts seize The Church of God from [Henry Hildebrandt] & the congregants,” Hillier said in reaction to the police raid on the church.
The Aylmer church says they will continue to worship as normal, despite the government restrictions and following the government seizing the church itself.
“At this point we will meet outdoors and 'underground',” church leaders said.
“We respect the judge but the fact that we are holding a pastor in contempt for holding a church service speaks for itself. Where have we come to as a nation? It's a dark day for religious freedom, the govt is shredding our Charter and the foundation of our nation.”