CONTACT YOUR MP: Free Pastor Coates and protect people of faith! Contact your MP, here.
EDMONTON, Alberta, March 4, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – An Alberta court judge today delayed a decision until Friday morning on whether to overturn jailed Pastor James Coates’ bail conditions that block his release unless he agrees to not hold church services amid severe coronavirus lockdowns.
Coates and his Grace Life Church are being represented by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF).
JCCF lawyer James Kitchen was in court on behalf of Coates on Thursday afternoon to argue against the Crown that Coates’ bail conditions violate his constitutional rights to practice his faith and that he should be released until his trial date.
Kitchen told LifeSiteNews that he thought a decision would come today but was not surprised the judge decided to wait until tomorrow morning to give his ruling, especially in light of the fact of the busy court docket this afternoon.
“The thing is, (the judge) is obviously is going to give a really thorough decision, and the right thing for him to do is not hold everybody else up, while he does that, so he did the right thing, out of respect for the situation and everybody else in the court, I totally agree with him,” Kitchen told LifeSiteNews.
“I’m pleasantly surprised he is going to give a thorough decision.”
JCCF president John Carpay told LifeSiteNews, “I’ve often said, ‘Anyone who makes a prediction about a court ruling is a fool.’ You just never know.”
Around 450 people joined the online court proceedings Thursday afternoon in anticipation of a decision, which will now come tomorrow at 9 a.m. MST.
In the court proceedings, Kitchen said to the judge that if Coates' “bail condition is not lifted,” he will be “in jail for another two months (and) he has already been in jail for two weeks. That’s unacceptable.”
“Imposing upon a Pastor the condition of his release, that he not pastor, that is a stain on the justice system, that is an injustice.”
PETITION UPDATE (3/22/2021)
Pastor James Coates has been freed!
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, the legal counsel which has been representing Pastor Coates, just issued a statement saying that Alberta's Crown Prosecutors have decided to drop all but one charge against Pastor Coates, paving the way for him to be released soon.
This is a great victory, God be praised!
Please READ LifeSiteNews' latest article on this latest and unexpected turn of events for Pastor Coates.
While Pastor Coates will still have to stand trial for the one remaining charge in May, he will at least be free to prepare for the hearings, and to celebrate Easter with his family and congregation.
Thank you for taking part in this campaign advocating for Pastor Coates' release!
Of course, with a trial still pending, he's not out of the woods, yet. But, this is a gigantic step in the right direction.
During his trial, we will keep you updated as to his status and we will continue to support Pastor Coates.
We will also keep fighting to ensure that Canadian people of faith like him are never persecuted for exercising their right to worship freely.
Until the trial finishes, please continue to SIGN and SHARE this petition in solidarity with Pastor Coates. Thank you!
PETITION UPDATE (2/24/2021) -
There have been two important, recent updates to the ongoing imprisonment of Pastor James Coates in Alberta, Canada.
First, Alberta's Premier, Jason Kenney has spoken out about Pastor Coates' incarceration.
Please READ LifeSiteNews' article about Premier Kenney's intervention, here: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/alberta-premier-who-jailed-christian-pastor-claims-he-is-protecting-fundamental-freedoms-of-religion
And second, Pastor Coates' wife addressed a crowd of supporters at the jail in which her husband is being held, saying in part:
"People keep asking us what can you do for us? Open your churches. Open your churches! Take a stand for the Lord Jesus Christ and take a stand for the people! Love them, open the doors, that’s what we need to do right now."
To read about Mrs. Coates visit to see her husband at the Edmonton Remand Center and her full remarks, please CLICK on the following news article from LifeSiteNews: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/wife-of-jailed-candadian-pastor-tells-supporters-the-best-way-to-protest-is-to-open-your-churches
Then, please SIGN and SHARE this important petition. Thank you!
Pastor James Coates of Grace Life Church in Alberta, Canada has been ARRESTED for refusing to comply with extreme and likely unconstitutional government Covid regulations that ban people from gathering to worship in their church of choice.
You read that right: Even churches aren’t exempt from Trudeau Liberals’ all-out attack on peoples' freedoms in the wake of this pandemic.
But, Pastor Coates needs to be released immediately, and MPs must take steps to rein-in the extreme Covid regulations which provincial governments are using as an excuse to trample on essential freedoms.
Please SIGN and SHARE this petition and STAND WITH PASTOR COATES.
Send a strong message to Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau and Justice Minister Lametti, as well as to all Members of Parliament and to Canadian Provincial Premiers, that this CANNOT stand.
Some government officials are hoping to make examples out of faith leaders like Pastor Coates, who refuse to comply with unreasonable government demands to close-off places of worship to their own congregations.
That's why he remains in custody to this day.
But, no Canadian should ever face jail time for exercising their God-given, Charter-guaranteed rights, and action MUST be taken.
Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition.
NB: YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE FROM CANADA TO SIGN THIS PETITION.
Pastor Coates, who leads Grace Life Church in Edmonton, Alberta, originally suspended in-person services and church gatherings in good faith and out of concern for his congregants after Trudeau’s government first introduced Covid restrictions last spring.
However, the church reopened over the summer when it became clear that Trudeau’s shutdowns were here to stay, and that congregants would be indefinitely limited in their worship size or again banned from in-person worship altogether under their guidelines.
After Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, enacted new restrictions in November that cap all faith-based gatherings at 15% of building capacity (a major blow to churches that wish to resume worship for their members), Pastor Coates kept Grace Life’s doors open to anyone and everyone who wished to proceed with normal practice of their faith.
However, this simple exercising of congregants’ Charter rights was met not only with governmental resistance, but an unreasonably disproportionate legal response.
Pastor Coates was arrested and then quickly released on February 7th for practicing his faith alongside congregants, and arrested AGAIN on February 16th for the same reason.
Pastor Coates remains in custody today for refusing to allow Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and his health officer Deena Hinshaw to infringe upon his congregants’ civil liberties any further.
Please SIGN and SHARE this petition which calls for the release of Pastor Coates, and asks Canada's MPs to take action to ensure that Canadian people of faith, like him, are NEVER persecuted for exercising their right to worship freely.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
'Alberta govt jails pastor for holding COVID-non-compliant worship services' -
Kitchen noted that regarding Alberta restrictions on church size, “all we have is a theory – we have a theory that church above 15 percent building capacity” is a threat to public health.
“That’s not good enough to impose this condition,” said Kitchen.
Kitchen added that the Crown has had more than half a year to put together more evidence to the public that having a certain number of people in a church causes more COVID spread, noting that “we have not had that.”
Additionally, Kitchen mentioned to the Crown that Coates is not a criminal, has broken no laws, and is innocent until proven guilty, and will only be ultimately charged if COVID rules are eventually deemed constitutional.
Coates “is not yet convicted; he is presumed innocent. He is only going to be convicted is if the public health orders are constitutional. In the meantime, we are putting the cart before the horse.”
Current Alberta COVID rules state that churches and other places of worship can operate at no more than 15 percent of the capacity allowed by the building fire code. Masks are mandatory, as are the sanitation of hands and keeping away from other people.
On Sunday, February 14, Coates held a church service at Grace Life located in Spruce Grove, Alberta, in violation of a January 29 order by Alberta Health Services (AHS) demanding that the church doors remain shut. It was shortly after this date he was jailed.
He has been detained at the Edmonton Remand Centre, awaiting trial since February 16, after refusing to agree to bail conditions.
In a sworn affidavit, Coates’ wife said that her husband could not “in good conscience” agree to bail conditions. “My husband has dedicated his life to obeying his Lord, Jesus Christ by spreading the gospel message and ministering to his congregants,” wrote Erin Coates.
“My husband could not, in good conscience, agree to such a condition. James did not agree to and did not sign the undertaking. James explained to the officers that he could not do that because to do so would violate his conscience and prevent him from fulfilling his duty as a minister to lead his congregation in worship.”
Coates’ bail conditions stipulate: “You will not attend or conduct services at Grace Life Church at 51529A, Range Road 262, Parkland Country, Alberta, unless you have complied with any existing orders of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Alberta Health Services Executive Officers or orders (of) the Court of Queen’s Bench. (The ‘Impugned Condition’).”
Kitchen argued in his court bail appeal application that Coates’ “Impugned Condition” requires him to “violate his conscience and to act contrary to his sincerely-held religious beliefs.”
“As such, the Impugned Condition does not merely limit his liberty, it is a severe infringement of his section 2(a) Charter rights. The Impugned Condition amounts to an attempt to change his behaviour and the effect is to punish him. Such a condition is not reasonable or in any way the ‘least onerous,’” reads the court bail application.
“Pastor Coates requests that this Honourable Court intervene to vacate the Impugned Condition in order to maintain the public’s respect for and confidence in the justice system and the courts. The Impugned Condition is ‘clearly inappropriate’ and not in the interests of justice.”
Premier of Alberta Jason Kenney
Office of the Premier
307 Legislature Building
10800 – 97 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5K 2B6
Email: [email protected]
To contact your local MLA, visit the link below: