A provincial court in Alberta, Canada, on Monday dismissed a case in which legal counsel for a jailed pastor argued that COVID-19 lockdowns against Canadian churches violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Lawyers for Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church, who drew international attention in February when he was jailed in a maximum security prison for more than a month after holding services in defiance of provincial health orders, claimed during his trial in May that provincial public health orders violated Charter rights guaranteeing freedoms of gathering, expression, and religion.
“The argument that James Coates was forced to either forsake his conscience or secure his liberty has been answered,” said Judge Robert Shaigec, who dismissed the case, according to CTV News Edmonton.
“Religious freedoms are subject to the rule of law,” he added.
Shaigec went on to assert that GraceLife Church was not singled out for punishment, as Coates’ lawyers claimed, and implied Coates’ 35-day jail sentence was his own fault because he refused