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Fox News host Tucker Carlson spoke this week with Erin Coates, the wife of a Canadian pastor who’s been incarcerated since Feb. 16th for the alleged crime of refusing to abide by coronavirus rules and restrictions while preaching a sermon.
Last month, Canadian authorities visited Pastor James Coates’ Grace Life Church in Parkland County and discovered that he allegedly wasn’t abiding by coronavirus restrictions pertaining to mask usage and capacity, as reported by Newsweek.
Two days later, he turned himself in and was reportedly charged with two counts of contravening the Public Health Act and one criminal charge. At the time, he was offered release on bail so long as he agreed to start abiding by the required COVID restrictions. He allegedly refused, so a judge ordered him to remain behind bars until a trial in May.
But speaking on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” this week, the pastor’s wife framed the issue differently, arguing that it’s not about a man refusing to abide by the law but rather about the slow degradation of freedom.
“This is definitely not the nation that I grew up in. We’re like a boiling frog. For a while I think our freedoms have just been slowly stripped from us, and so slowly over time that we didn’t even realize it. And so when something like a health order is put in place that takes away your freedoms, it’s not shocking to people,” she said to Carlson.
But it should be shocking, Coates argued.
“And it really should be shocking to people that there is a pastor in jail right now who’s given his life to sacrifice and love other people, to worship God. That that’s not shocking to a lot of people and it really should be [suggests] we are on a dangerous road right now, and I think because we’ve just been in the pot for so long boiling that people aren’t really realizing the danger that we’re facing as a nation,” she said.
(Video: Fox News)
The authorities clearly view the matter differently.
“The law that Mr. Coates clearly intends not to be bound by remains valid and enforceable against him. Mr. Coates’s strongly held religious beliefs and convictions do not overcome those valid and enforceable laws,” Queen’s Bench Justice Peter Michalyshyn said in a ruling earlier this month, according to Coast Mountain News.
His defenders have pushed back on this mindset by noting that not a single member of his church has died from COVID, though a member did die as a result of being under lock down.
“Not one congregant has been lost to Covid, but, sadly, a congregant was lost to the Alberta Government lockdown in the first week of February when he died prematurely because he couldn’t get the cancer treatment he needed due to government lockdown restrictions,” Todayville Edmonton reported Wednesday.
Continuing the discussion on Fox News, Carlson then pointed out that, at least here in the United States, the authorities have chosen to focus their COVID punishment efforts on mainly Christian ministers and not other violators.
“You haven’t seen this happen to people who run abortion clinics or strip bars or marijuana dispensaries. Do you believe your husband was singled out because he’s a Christian pastor?” he then asked.
Coates replied with a definitive yes.
“I have to believe that the enemy is singling him out. We have a real enemy who really hates the Lord Jesus Christ and really hates the blood-bought body that he purchased on the cross and has given new life to,” she said.
“Yes, we have an absolute real enemy, and he uses people to target the ministers of God. We know that through scripture. We know that through church history. And so I really believe that they are being targeted in our country,” Coates added.
Carlson responded by noting that many people, particularly secularists, would have likely dismissed her words as crazy talk as recently as a year ago. But thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, ironically enough, it’s now clear that there does appear to be some sort of concerted effort to target Christians.
California pastor threatened over lockdowns: ‘I’m open for a jail ministry … bring it on” https://t.co/TTtHqrcahM
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) September 17, 2020
As for Coates’ husband, he was finally granted some reprieve this week, according to his attorneys at the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.
“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,” they announced in a press release Wednesday.
Interestingly, the decision to keep one charge was motivated in part by Coates’ attorneys.
“The single charge remaining has not been withdrawn, as the Justice Centre and Pastor 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. The trial is scheduled to take place beginning on May 3, 2021,” they explained.
It looks like they intend to fight fire with fire.