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EDMONTON, Alberta, March 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Canadian Pastor James Coates, who was jailed for holding church services amid COVID lockdowns, will soon be released from prison. His legal team announced today that Crown prosecutors agreed to drop most of the charges.
“The Justice Centre today announced that Crown Prosecutors have agreed to withdraw all but one of the Public Health Act offences that Pastor James Coates has been charged with. The Justice Centre expects Pastor Coates will be released from jail in the coming days, without any conditions, pending his May 3-5 trial in Provincial Court,” said Coates’ legal team, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) in a press release.
Coates and his Grace Life Church located in Spruce Grove, Alberta, are being represented by the JCCF. Today’s news comes only a few weeks after an Alberta court judge on March 5 dismissed an appeal to Coates’ bail conditions, which would have kept him behind bars until his trial date.
Coates has been in jail since February 16 at the Edmonton Remand Centre for defying local COVID health orders in Alberta, after refusing to agree to bail conditions which block his release unless he agrees to not hold church services amid severe coronavirus lockdowns.
According to the JCCF, crown prosecutors have now agreed that Coates can be “released without conditions,” and have withdrawn all but one of his Public Health Act charges.
“Prosecutors have also agreed to withdraw the criminal charge in connection with the condition imposed by RCMP on February 7, and instead have charged Pastor Coates $100 for breaching the condition, which Pastor Coates has agreed to pay,” said the JCCF.
The JCCF said in its press release that the one remaining charge against Coates, “has not been withdrawn,” as the legal team and Coates “want the matter heard at trial, to determine the constitutionality of the public health order that churches only hold worship services at 15% capacity, and to compel the government to produce scientific evidence that might support these violations of Charter freedoms.”
On Sunday, February 14, Coates held a church service 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 that he was jailed.
The head of the JCCF, John Carpay, said in the press release that imposing a bail condition on Coates, according to which he was essentially prohibited from practicing his faith, was “unconstitutional.”
“The condition that Pastor Coates effectively stop doing his job as a pastor by adhering to unscientific and unconstitutional public health restrictions should never have been imposed on him by the RCMP, or by the Court. We are hopeful that he will finally be released from jail without conditions, and can resume pastoring Grace Life church,” said Carpay.
“We look forward appearing in court in May and demanding the government provide evidence that public health restrictions that violate the freedoms of religion, peaceful assembly, expression and association are scientific and are justifiable in a free and democratic country.”
Pastor Patrick Schoenberger of Heights Baptist Church in Medicine Hat, Alberta, told LifeSiteNews that he is “thankful” that Coates will soon be released.
“I was very thankful to hear that Pastor James Coates was being released and that most of the charges against him were being dropped. His imprisonment was unjustified, unconstitutional, and a wasteful use of enforcement and legal resources in my opinion,” said Schoenberger.
“There are real criminals that we need to arrest and prosecute in this province. I anticipate that the trial of James Coates in May will be an opportunity to test the justification and the constitutionality of these public health orders, and I will be praying for a decision that will uphold the charter rights of Canadians.”
Heights Baptist, like other Alberta churches, has been admitting worshipers beyond 15 percent capacity and does not make its churchgoers wear masks.
Aylmer, Ontario, Church of God Pastor Henry Hildebrandt has been a vocal supporter of Coates, even making a trip out to Alberta to be at a protest at Coates’ jail to demand his release.
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' -
On Twitter today, Hildebrandt wrote, “Praise God! Pastor James Coates will be released from jail.”
In February, Coates’ wife Erin said to a large crowd gathered at the jail where her husband is being held that the best way to protest her husband’s imprisonment is to “open your churches.”
Since the jailing of Coates, Kenney, and his UCP government have come under increased fire from many who oppose lockdowns, including some MLAs within his party base, including MLA Drew Barnes of Medicine Hat.
Anger over Kenney grew so loud as of late that according to a CBC report, many within the party have openly called for a leadership review.
Last Friday, it was reported that an internal email from the UCP stated that indeed there will be a leadership review for Kenney, however, it will not take place until 2022.
Recently, the Kenney’s provincial government allowed retail businesses an increase in occupancy limits, but offered no such increase to churches, which remain capped at 15 percent.
To be able to ease restrictions as part of Stage Three, the number of patients in the hospital with COVID-19 must be under 300. As of this writing, Alberta lists 260 COVID-related patients in the hospital, with 44 in ICU, which is well below the required Stage Three benchmarks.
A LifeSiteNews petition to release Pastor James Coates from jail had been signed by over 33,000 people. A VoterVoice campaign, asking people to contact their members of parliament and protest the incarceration of Coates has also been widely used.
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.: