This week, the Ohio House of Representatives approved a resolution asking the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to add Canada to its watch list of countries where religious liberties are threatened.
State Rep. Tim Ginter presented the legislation, saying Canadian lawmakers mishandled COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and targeted churches, Faithwire reports. In one case, Alberta officers arrested and jailed James Coates, the pastor of GraceLife Church in Edmonton. He was jailed for more than 30 days for holding in-person worship services in violation of government lockdown restrictions.
“This resolution is not the result of a singular incident or even a handful of incidents,” Ginter said in a statement, according to WKSU-TV. “It’s a persistent pattern of religious rights violations that has driven us to this point,” he added.
Ohio state Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus also said the treatment of Coates was unacceptable.
“While Ohio has stood up for religious freedom and protected the right to attend religious services, it is clear Canada has not done the same,” Stoltzfus said, describing the nation’s mandates as “very similar to what we see in Communist-controlled China.”
In an interview with CBN’s Faithwire, Coates also said that the restrictions felt like the beginning of “totalitarian” measures.
“I think this is going to continue to take place; there’s going to continue to be battles,” he explained, calling his experience a “practical illustration of what it looks like to take a courageous stand on the Word of God.”
In another case, Albertan Pastor Artur Pawlowski was arrested and spent two months in solitary confinement for inciting “mischief” when he participated in the “Freedom Convoy” that took place along the U.S.-Canada border. The Freedom Convoy was a demonstration led by semitruck drivers against the pandemic restrictions.
Meanwhile, Democratic leaders in Ohio say the resolution isn’t needed.
“We should be addressing the issues that our constituents are asking for, such as stricter gun policies, legislation to protect women’s rights, and reforming our rigged criminal justice system,” said state Rep. Latyna Humphrey (D). “At this point in time, we are focusing on issues that are not even within our jurisdiction.”
Reporting from Christian Headlines.