A group of pastors and protesters gathered around the Calgary Remand Centre in Alberta to support Pastor Tim Stephens, who was jailed earlier this month after a police helicopter found where his congregation was meeting outside.
Heavy police presence hovered over the gathering, according to video of the event from Rebel News (see below), but the demonstration remained peaceful despite many of the participants expressing disgust toward the Alberta government for how they are treating Stephens and other pastors.
Among the participants in the protest was Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church in Edmonton, who drew international attention earlier this year when he spent more than a month in maximum-security prison for continuing to hold church services in defiance of the Alberta Public Health Act.
After he was released, Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) raided his church in the early morning and barricaded it behind three layers of fence, forcing the congregation to meet in secret.
“What our country is doing right now is it’s losing its entire identity, and everything that we’ve enjoyed in this country to this point is being systematically and fundamentally redefined and [altered],” Coates told the crowd, pointing out how Critical Race Theory (CRT) is one of the ways Western nations are being dismantled from the inside.
“This country, the whole Western Civilization as we know it, is being systematically altered,” Coates continued. “And all we’re going to do in the mean time is proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The whole thing is going to come down and we are going to claim Christ all the way to the grave. And we’re going to preach the Gospel to all those who hate him and hate us, and we’re going to appeal to them to be reconciled to God. And may God work through his grace by our preaching to reconcile hearts to himself.”
“But this thing’s coming down, folks,” Coates added. “This country is dying, it’s on life support, if there’s any life in it at this point.”
Another person who spoke at the event was Pastor Trevor Stephens, who is Tim Stephens’ brother and associate pastor of Victory Baptist Church near Edmonton. “What’s happened here is reprehensible,” Stephens said. “Jailing a pastor for being obedient to God for an injunction that really doesn’t apply to him. But our family’s just so grateful for people to show up and show support for Tim.” Stephens also warned that the way government is overreaching during the COVID-19 pandemic will not stop with the virus.
Speaking to the crowd, Stephens specifically addressed his brother’s arrest and how the officer who arrested him “dared to cite Scripture to a pastor to defend their actions.”
“Anyone who saw the video footage can see clearly who the more principled man was,” Stephens said. “One of the Scriptures the police officer twisted was this: ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,’ to which we would say, ‘Absolutely and amen.’ Part of the passage he was quoting was the response of Jesus [to someone] who brought him a coin, tempting him. Jesus asked the question, ‘Whose is this image and superscription?’ To which they replied, ‘It was Caesar’s.'”
“Jesus then answered and said — and this is the full verse — ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,'” he added.