Wife of jailed Canadian pastor tells supporters: The best way to protest is to ‘open your churches’

'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!'
Tue Feb 23, 2021 - 11:56 am EST
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EDMONTON, Alberta, February 23, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – The wife of incarcerated Canadian Pastor James Coates 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.” 

“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,” said Erin Coates, during a protest demanding her husband be freed.

“People are hurting they need to hear about Christ’s Love, they need to hear about him who has paid the penalty for sin so that they can be reconciled through God.”

Erin told the crowd of hundreds of supportive protestors, gathered at Edmonton Remand Centre (where her husband is being held), that it was “overwhelming” to receive so much support.

Coates is the pastor of Grace Life Church (Grace Life) located in Spruce Grove, Alberta, which is close to Alberta’s capital city, Edmonton. 

On Sunday, February 14, Coates held a church service for his congregation, which was in violation of a January 29 order by Alberta Health Services (AHS), which had demanded that the church doors shut. 

Leading up to this date, AHS had claimed that Grace Life was not following attendance limit sizes in place, and not following masking or physical distancing rules. 

Coates was notified last week by the RCMP that they planned to arrest him for defying the COVID-19 shutdown order and asked him to turn himself in. Coates complied and was jailed for ministering to his congregation

He remains in prison, awaiting trial, after refusing to agree to bail conditions that he agree not to hold more church services that violate government restrictions justified by COVID-19.

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Aylmer, Ontario, Church of God Pastor Henry Hildebrandt made the trip to Edmonton to be at the protest in support of Coates. He said on Twitter that he was “happy” to see “so many Christian freedom fighters come to the maximum security Remand Centre today,” to fight for religious freedom. 

Hildebrandt has been a vocal opponent to government-imposed COVID-19 lockdown measures, and has himself, along with others from his congregation, received fines for defying the local health orders. 

Hildebrandt shared the video of Coates’ wife Erin’s plea to the supporters gathered. During her impassioned speech, she told the protestors to be champions for Christ, saying to be kind to those who “oppose us.”  

“Be kind to those who oppose us because we’re doing this in love, and they’re not going to understand it, they didn’t understand Christ, they won’t understand us either,” said Erin. 

“But that’s OK because we love them anyway so go on my brothers and sisters with boldness proclaim the gospel use every opportunity to share what He has done in your life and who He is because there’s eternal souls at risk right now.” 

Last week, the Premier of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney released a statement regarding the jailing of Coates, saying his imprisonment is “unfortunate,” but that Coates had “flagrantly” violated COVID rules.  

Kenney went on to proclaim that he is protecting “fundamental freedoms of religion” in his province, despite the fact that Coates remains behind bars. 

According to the legal team representing Coates and Grace Life however, Coates was - despite claims from Kenney - “jailed” for holding a church service. 

“For the first time ever, Alberta has arrested and incarcerated a Christian minister for the ‘crime’ of holding a church service,” reads a portion of a letter addressed to Kenney regarding Coates from Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) President John Carpay.

Coates has been charged with contravening the orders put in place by Alberta’s chief medical officer of health (CMOH), Dr. Deena Hinshaw, and with “breaching an undertaking, even though he did not agree to the undertaking,” according to the JCCF. 

At the protest, Coates wife Erin also encouraged the crowd to listen to her jailed husband's last sermon, which was given on February 14 and is posted on Grace Life’s YouTube channel. 

“I really encourage you to go and listen to his last sermon in the role of government in the in the churches go and listen to that and circulate it, everybody needs to hear what is the role of government and what is the role of church in society,” said Erin.

Kenney took aim at Coates sermon. He said during a talk-show interview with radio host, and former Alberta MLA Danielle Smith, that Coates is irresponsible for delivering “libertarian sermons” during COVID-19, noting that he would not get involved in what he considers to be a “legal case.”

Grace Life can hold nearly 400 congregants, and this past Sunday, in direct contravention of its AHS orders to stay shut,  held a packed church service once again.

Under the current Alberta COVID rules, 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.

Grace Life has said that the frequent inspections by AHS officials could be “a potential criminal offense, pursuant to section 176(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada,” which bans the interrupting or disturbing of a religious worship service.

Support for Pastor Coates was also shown at other protests held in Alberta the same day. On Saturday, protesters gathered at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton, at which support for Coates was voiced. 

Also on the same day, an anti-lockdown protest was held in Medicine Hat outside the office of Alberta United Conservative Party (UCP) MLA Drew Barnes in opposition of lockdowns. 

Many present voiced support for Coates, with some protestors on-site holding signs demanding that Kenney release Coates. 

Barnes has been one of the few Alberta MLAs from Kenney’s government who has publicly voiced opposition to his government's COVID-19 lockdowns. 

At the protest, Barnes said that the he will always “fight for” Alberta families and their freedoms, saying that “we are taking this message, we’re passing it along to Premier Kenney, we’re passing it along to all of the UCP caucus.”  

“This is about Alberta’s future, this is about creating the type of future where its faith not fear, where its about families….self reliance.” 

LifeSiteNews asks its readers to take the time to defend the religious liberty of Canadians by filing out our VoterVoice Alert to free Pastor Coates.

CONTACT YOUR MP: Free Pastor Coates and protect people of faith! Contact your MP, here.

Further contact information

Premier of Alberta Jason Kenney

Office of the Premier
307 Legislature Building
10800 - 97 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta  T5K 2B6

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 780-427-2251

To contact your local MLA, visit the link below.:

To contact Pastor Coates in jail

James Coates

Remand Center

18415-127th St NW

Edmonton, AB

T6V 1V1

All letters will be opened and read.

  james coates, jason kenney, lockdown orders

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