UPDATE: Pastor James Coates behind bars after church defies lockdown

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Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church remains behind bars today.

GraceLife, near Edmonton, Alberta, has been the site of Christian resistance to the medical tyranny of public health orders restricting public gatherings including religious services.

In Alberta, religious services are limited to 15 per cent of a building's fire code capacity. The restrictions on attendance are meant to mitigate COVID case counts, even though the numbers have plummeted and hospitalizations are down to less than half of what they were a month ago.

When GraceLife refused to turn away congregants to meet the arbitrary 15 per cent rule, and when the church did not force congregants to wear masks, it was put under weekly surveillance by local police and Alberta Health Services inspectors.

Pastor James received a $1,200 fine for violating a public health order, and eventually, when he continued to defy the 15 per cent capacity restriction, an executive order from the chief medical officer of health to close the church was issued.

That piece of paper meant nothing to a congregation and a pastor that are compelled by their faith to gather together to worship every week, and so they've continued.

On February 7, Pastor James was arrested in his office for holding services. He was released and the following Sunday, February 14, he again held services while local RCMP waited outside.

However, the police did not arrest Pastor James again last Sunday. Instead they asked him to come and turn himself in on the following business day.

He turned himself in on Tuesday morning.

Pastor James remains in custody. His lawyer, James Kitchen of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, explained to Rebel News in an exclusive interview that the pastor cannot in good conscience comply with a condition of his release on bail: to not hold religious service on Sundays.

The pastor is now at the Edmonton Remand Centre in 14-day COVID quarantine, which all new inmates experience as part of their intake. He's isolated and will be kept in solitary confinement for the next two weeks, before he is allowed into general population as his case winds its way through the system.

The Remand Centre is a maximum security prison where the worst of the worst are held because they don't qualify for bail, being too dangerous to be released while they await trial. 

The Alberta correctional system has released hundreds of prisoners because it has been considered too dangerous for low-risk offenders to remain behind bars during the pandemic. Yet, the same legal system is imprisoning a Christian pastor as a non-violent political prisoner of conscience, because he cannot obey government and obey God simultaneously.

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