The church in Alberta, Canada, whose pastor was imprisoned for more than a month after holding church services in defiance of Alberta’s Public Health Act was raided at dawn on Wednesday and shut down by government order.
GraceLife Church in Parkland County, west of Edmonton, was “physically closed” by Alberta Health Services following repeated complaints, according to the CBC.
As the outlet reported:
In an emailed statement to CBC News Wednesday morning, RCMP confirmed they were on scene, assisting AHS as they closed the church under Section 62.1 of the Alberta Public Health Act.
As of 8:30 a.m., police vehicles and unmarked SUVs were blocking entrances to the church parking lot.
In a media statement, AHS said it “physically closed” the church and has prevented access until the church “can demonstrate the ability to comply with Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health’s restrictions.”
I count thirteen vehicles as part of this police raid on a church. They’re erecting steel fences around it. Like China does when they uncover an illegal “house church”. Except this is in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The same church whose pastor was thrown in prison for 35 days. pic.twitter.com/qJlnHHGGdV
— Ezra Levant 🍁 (@ezralevant) April 7, 2021
GraceLife Church’s pastor, James Coates, was recently imprisoned for holding church services. As The Daily Wire reported regarding his ordeal:
Pastor James Coates, who pastors GraceLife Church in the Edmonton area, was first arrested in February after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) repeatedly flagged his church for not abiding by public health orders that capped attendance at 15 percent capacity. The RCMP later slapped the church with more charges when they continued to hold services while their pastor was imprisoned.
In an interview given shortly after his release from prison, Coates explained how many of the prisoners came to him seeking spiritual advice. As The Daily Wire reported:
After he spent his requisite two weeks in quarantine, Coates said inmates would seek him out for spiritual help during his incarceration. “Once I got into [general population], I would have guys often come to my door and want to speak with me and would share difficulties in their life with me, and I would share the gospel with them. We’d be talking through a door to each other, but I would share the gospel with them. That happened often, where guys would just come to me.”
As highlighted by FaithWire, Coates remembered of when he left the prison: “Just to kind of show the affection that we had for each other, in the moment I was leaving, I turned around … and I lifted up my hand to wave, and the doors of the pod began to shake as the men in their cells just banged on their doors as a sign of support, love, [and] affection.”
Speaking recently with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who described Coates’ situation as “obvious tyranny,” James’ wife Erin lamented that she no longer recognizes her native Canada, where she claims rights have been stripped from citizens so gradually that it no longer bothers most of them. Unwilling to claim outright that government authorities were targeting her husband for his religion, she did note that spiritual forces of evil often work through them.
GraceLife Church did not respond to The Daily Wire’s request for comment.
Related: ‘It Was Precious To Me’: Canadian Pastor Jailed For Holding Church Services Recounts Touching Moment He Was Freed