A Canadian church was fined for a second time due to holding an in-person worship service, despite orders banning large gatherings during the pandemic.
Riverside Calvary Church of Langley, British Columbia received the citation on Jan. 3, Penticton Western News reports.
Langley Cpl. Holly Largy with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said a ticket was issued to the church “for conducting an in-person service in contravention of the Provincial Health Order on Sunday.”
“Attendees were seen in the church without masks during the service,” Largy added.
An order banning indoor events was passed in British Columbia on Nov. 19 following an increase in COVID cases.
One Riverside church member, who spoke anonymously, said the ban was an illustration of government “overreach” but doesn’t condemn the police for enforcing it.
“I understand they’re doing their job, but it’s excessive.”
The first citation against Riverside was issued on Nov. 29, after law enforcement was called to the sanctuary to investigate a complaint that in-person services were taking place.
According to BC Local News, Lead Pastor Brent Smith said there have been disputes over whether church services are essential but he says they have a right to participate in these gatherings.
“We just believe there has been many inconsistencies with what is essential, and we simply desire to worship our Lord in a safe and Biblical way,” Smith said.
In a YouTube video posted on Sunday, Riverside Assistant Pastor Randy Dyck said he believes that every government will become more decisive in its efforts to maintain control.
“Every government is soon going to force a very different and sadly very evil lifestyle on the world,” he explained. “The reality is that the Bible teaches a world government that will be anti-God and a world government that will reject the scriptures.”
HD Editor’s Note: Why Is this News Biblically Relevant?
David Fiorazo is his article, “Government is Not God, And the Church IS Essential” explained how government overreach and lukewarm Christians, not willing to stand up for what is right, have damaged the Religious Liberty of churches when the lost needs us most:
Double standards abound and our religious freedoms are in jeopardy. In case you haven’t noticed, America is at a tipping point. Moral decay, cultural decline, political division and protests, the Democrat media using the ‘Rona’ to stoke fear and panic, and threats to our very way of life.
There’s never been a time that we’ve needed God more – and many churches are still closed; others not operating at full capacity. Why? According to government and the secular culture, church is not a priority. But is that true?
If the church is not essential, what hope is there for people struggling with depression and anxiety or suffering as suicide rates skyrocket and call-ins to help lines are up 600 percent? Drugs and alcohol prove to be horrible comforts. In the last several months, at a time more people have been faced with major life changes and their own mortality, many have been feeling hopeless, looking for answers, and even open to prayer or spiritual things.
But churches have been severely handicapped by government. Was this necessary to ‘flatten the curve’? We’re just now seeing some of the damage.
God is faithful, and we need more church leaders to contend for the faith, equip the saints, and preach the truth without wavering. The Bible says we are to gather together and encourage one another. The writer of Hebrews states:
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.
Jesus is the Head of the church, all authority belongs to Him, and we don’t need the government’s permission to serve others and worship as He has commanded.
The real danger isn’t a virus or a physical health issue; the danger is spiritual, and America is on life support!
The world is imploding, time is running out, and the door through which people can be saved is closing. If God rebuked the early church for being lukewarm and leaving their first love, what would He say to us today?
In a message to Christians in the Book of Revelation, Jesus said:
Revelation 3:2-3 KJV – “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”
We know Jesus is returning but we don’t know when. That should sober up every one of us and repentance should be a priority. Judgement will begin with the house of God. This is such a pivotal time in our history! Where are the bold, voices of faith confronting culture, speaking truth and refuting the lies?
Regardless of whether or not the world understands how essential the church is to the health of a society and the world, we know better! Christians still have the best message of hope for depressed, desperate people. Jesus is not only essential, He is the only hope for sinners to have eternal life.
The country is divided over many things, including the concern about how to keep people physically healthy during this pandemic, and over decisions by power-grabbing governors and mayors to regulate businesses, entertainment, sporting events, and schools. But bans on churches, singing, caps on attendance, or limitations on religious gatherings are outside legitimate bounds of God-ordained authority for civic officials.
People need hope and places of refuge – especially now. The body of Christ must be free to minister and its members need to be ministered to! The church needs to be the church, and that includes being free of government control and restrictions.
The Coronavirus caused the world to lockdown, happily relinquish fundamental freedoms, close churches, suppress free speech, wear masks (which are damaging to health and do not protect from COVID), comply with “contact tracing,” as well as other drastic impositions.
In December of 2019, such government overreach would have rightfully appeared shocking and radical, and yet these changes were accepted with virtually no opposition. Was this the “power of panic”?
Is this the same reason that the antichrist and his global government will be given so much leeway with the populous after the Rapture? It was more extraordinary back in December 2019 to think that the antichrist during the Tribulation could cause the vast percentage of the population to agree to receive the “mark of the beast” (spoken of in Revelation 13:16-18). But in December 2020… it no longer appears so strange that people could be so easily deceived.