There’s no doubt that the inconsistent COVID-related lockdowns and arbitrary mandates have been used, in many instances, to target the church and religious freedom. Because of this (among other reasons), certain churches are hosting in-person services regardless of ever-changing government mandates. One such church is located in Ontario, Canada—and all six elders of the church now face massive fines and possible jail time.
Just before Christmas, Ontario went into lockdown again, allowing a mere 10 people at “religious services or gatherings.” Well, Trinity Bible Chapel in Breslau, Ontario, remained open, citing the biblical mandate that believers must gather together, as well as pointing out that forcing the church to close violates religious freedoms protected in Canadian law.
Well, all six elders were charged for daring to open the church doors, each facing fines of up to $10,000 (Canadian) if convicted in criminal court. After hosting another service (according to the church), the church’s elders and pastors now each face fines of up to $100,000 and a year in jail, with the church itself facing a potential $10,000,000 fine for hosting a church service in Canada.
The church shares that they have remained open since June, and not a single COVID case has been traced to their church. They wrote a letter, titled “Here We Stand: The Church Must Meet,” to Canadian officials to explain why they are remaining open despite the government imposing another lockdown on citizens:
Our observation is that these times of isolation, due to the government’s restrictive actions, have harmed people and society by perpetuating loneliness, hopelessness, fear, poverty, division, anger, the deterioration of relationships, and a plethora of other evils which will become more evident with time. These observations do not surprise us because the restrictive actions of the government have wrongfully reduced human beings to biological units with little purpose to existence other than to avoid contracting and spreading a virus. [In a footnote the church added: “At the time of writing this, nine months into the pandemic, more than 99.967% of Canadians have not died from COVID-19.”]
Scripture teaches us that people are much more than biological units. We are created in the image of God with dignity and worth, to live free, love one another, worship together, grow families, eat with each other, laugh and cry together, embrace one another, exchange goods and services, and build things. Central to the Christian life is the ministry of the church, and TBC asserts that the church must remain open.
I encourage you to read their excellent letter to the authorities in full.
Not one of our officials replied with an attempt to work with us . . . Our church community has become a vital refuge for hundreds of people during these times of despair. Our government is destroying our society to prevent the spread of a virus with a fraction of a fractional death rate. This is evil . . .
We have ancestors who fought in wars to protect us from state abuses of this nature, and many of our families fled police states that eerily resemble what we are being subjected to at the present. Our high school teachers, parents, and grandparents warned us against governments that act this way . . .
Our Saviour shed His blood to purchase the church, and therefore deeming the church ‘unessential’ is tantamount to deeming the blood of Christ unessential, which is a public act of blasphemy. One day our elected officials, bureaucrats, and police will stand before the court of God’s justice for these acts. We earnestly pray that the Holy Spirit would draw them to his Son, Jesus Christ, who offers free grace and forgiveness to all who would repent and put their faith in him. Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, and therefore we must honour and obey him above all earthly governments.
These elders certainly communicated with extreme clarity—it is reminiscent of the reformer Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms! He is quoted as stating, “Here I stand [on Scripture], I can do no other . . . God help me.” Such courage and boldness as exhibited by this Canadian church is needed in the church throughout the West as intolerance and persecution increases. Pray for the church in Canada.
Hebrews 10:25 KJV – “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”