(ChristianLeader) Update (3-23-2021) After spending almost five weeks behind the bars of the Edmonton Remand Centre for violating public health mandates, Pastor James Coates was released yesterday (March 22, 2021). Coates was jailed because he preached at his GraceLife Church‘s worship gatherings and refused to place capacity and social distancing restrictions upon the congregants.
Appearing virtually before Stony Plain court’s Provincial Judge Jeffrey Champion while dressed in an orange and black jumpsuit, Pastor Coates was fined $1,500 and received a stern reprimand from the judge: “Your decision could have been of danger to the health and safety of those in the community.”
Pastor Coates’ lawyers proposed a lesser fine. But according to the Edmonton Journal, Judge Champion voiced his concern with the message the court could be sending to others who might be looking to disobey public health orders if a lesser fine would have been accepted.
The husband to wife Erin and father to their two sons told the court on Monday that he was not making a statement by remaining in jail despite having the option to be freed earlier if he would have chosen to adhere to the government’s COVID-19 health mandates.
His wife Erin shared recently in an interview, “I do want to make it clear, he’s not in jail because he didn’t obey the restrictions. He’s in jail because he obeyed the Lord Jesus Christ and His headship over the church and did not restrict the gathering to anybody.”