Pastor says church faces over $40M in fines
A judge in Ontario, Canada, has allowed authorities to temporarily lock the doors of a church that has refused to follow provincial restrictions on gatherings aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.
The attorney general’s office for Ontario had police lock the doors of Trinity Bible Chapel of Waterloo through next Saturday to prevent in-person worship services.
The move came as part of a temporary injunction against the chapel in which Justice John Krawchenko concluded that closing the church was a matter of public safety.
“The risk of irreparable harm would be too great to ignore,” said Krawchenko, as reported by the CTV News. “The only way to ensure compliance is to lock the doors to the building, but not to their ministry.”
Pastor Jacob Reaumepublished a blog entry to the church’s website last Friday in response to the decision.
“Today, a court granted the Province of Ontario the authority to take our facility, at least until next Saturday, with the option of trying to get it for longer by going to court once again this coming week,” he wrote. “For some of those eleven months in our facility, we have met in contravention of provincial dictates. We have participated in what the public health people consider high risk behaviour, namely the millennia old tradition of gathering weekly to worship our Creator.”
The pastor noted that his congregation had only been in the building for less than a year.
“They took our building because they think that will stop us from worshipping,” Reaume stated. “For twenty years our church has worshipped together each Lord’s Day, and we’ve only met in our own building for eleven months.”
“So the best part of our history we have not owned a building,” he continued. “We managed just fine to gather together without our own building, and now we don’t have our own building again.”