Calgary church pastor arrested for violating health ordinances
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The pastor of Calgary’s Fairview Baptist Church has been arrested for the second time after a church service was held in violation of a Court of Queen’s Bench order.
Pastor Tim Stephens was arrested by Calgary police on Monday afternoon, according to a statement from the Calgary Police Department.
Police said numerous complaints from concerned citizens had been received that Stephens continued to hold religious services at Fairview Baptist Church without respecting restrictions put in place by the provincial government to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These restrictions included limits on congregation size, social distancing and mask wearing.
Over the weekend, Stephens was served with a Court of Queen’s Bench order which was obtained by Alberta Health Services.
Police say Stephens recognized the order but refused to comply. They say he went ahead with an outdoor service on Sunday that did not comply with current COVID-19 restrictions.
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Officers did not interrupt the service but arrested Stephens at his home on Monday. He remains in custody and is due in court on June 28.
“It appears that Prime Minister Kenney’s government is targeting its enemies, those who speak out against lockdown restrictions and for Charter freedoms,” said Jay Cameron, attorney at the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms, who represents Stephens.
“The lockdown of the Fairview Baptist worshipers and the arrest of Pastor Tim Stephens has everything to do with punishing dissent, and nothing to do with public safety.”
Stephens had already been arrested in May. The lawsuits against him were dropped by AHS after learning that legal documents had been served on the wrong person in what has been called a mistaken identity case.
In the statement, the police department said it recognizes the desire of people to come together to worship, but that it is also important that people comply with health orders “to ensure the safety and well-being of all. “.
“We continue to call on those who are considering hosting or participating in outdoor events to ensure that they are aware of public health requirements and to do their part to prevent the spread of the virus.” , we read in the press release.