Pastors Artur Pawlowski and Tim Stephens both experienced setbacks in their battles with Alberta authorities Monday when a judge found Pawlowski and his brother guilty of contempt and Stephens had his prison sentence extended.
Pawlowski and his brother David, who made international headlines in May when they were arrested in the middle of a busy highway on their way home from church, were found guilty of contempt of court order by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Adam Germain for holding services at their Fortress (Cave) of Adullam Street Church in defiance of Alberta’s Public Health Act.
Artur was found guilty on two counts and David found guilty on one.
In an exclusive reaction given to Rebel News, who is also raising money for his legal defense fund, Pawlowski said he was “saddened” by the court’s ruling, and claimed Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and members of his cabinet should be also be found in contempt of court order for violating their own COVID-19 lockdown rules when they were secretly photographed dining on the top of the Federal Building in Edmonton earlier this month.
“The level of hypocrisy right now is unbelievable,” he said. “The level of double standards that we see right now in our system, it’s shocking, it’s heartbreaking, and saddens me greatly. Because what kind of a country are we going to have when the ministers that are putting the orders, they themselves do not care about those orders? They’re breaking their own mandates and they don’t care about the justice system.”
After explaining how the tactics of Alberta authorities echo those of the communists who ran Poland when he grew up there, he asked viewers to pray for him and his brother, who potentially face further imprisonment at their sentencing on July 27.
“I need your prayers. Please pray so this evil, this great evil that we’re witnessing in our country is going to be revoked, broken, and what else can I say? We will keep speaking the truth, we will keep fighting for the future of this country so Canada will stand strong and free.”
“O Canada, we stand on guard for thee,” he added, quoting the Canadian national anthem.
During a recent interview with The Christian Post, Pawlowski claimed authorities are singling out Christian pastors for lockdown violations while leaving Muslims undisturbed.
Pastor Tim Stephens of Fairview Baptist Church, also from Calgary, learned Monday that his sentence at the Calgary Remand Centre will be extended until July 12. Stephens was arrested for a second time June 14 after a police helicopter found where his congregation was gathering outside. The arresting officer quoted the New Testament in an apparent attempt to justify arresting the pastor while his young children sobbed.
By spending almost a month in a maximum-security prison, Stephens will join Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church in Edmonton, who spent 35 days at the Edmonton Remand Centre. Police and health authorities later raided Coates’ church at dawn, locked it, and barricaded it behind three layers of fencing. His congregation has since secretly been meeting underground.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) on Thursday urged the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to consider adding Canada to its watch list because of how the country has treated pastors and churches in the name of COVID-19.
“Frankly, I would expect this sort of religious crackdown in Communist China, not in a prominent Western nation like Canada. Canadian authorities’ arrest of faith leaders and seizure of church property, among other enforcement actions, appear to constitute systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom,” Hawley wrote in part.