A church in Manitoba, Canada has determined to keep up its “God-called duty” and gather for indoor worship services in spite of being slapped with a $5,000 fine.
According to the Winnipeg Sun, the Church of God Restoration was ticketed the maximum amount allowed under the province’s public health act after holding an in-person service in spite of a ban on all faith-based gatherings amid an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the province.
Although Senior Pastor Henry Hildebrandt says the church regularly reminded members of Manitoba’s health guidelines and provided free masks when needed, denounced the decision to force churches to close while “liquor, cannabis, department and big box stores” are open for business.
“This principle is not just about in-person services—this is a wholesale attack on faith and the freedom of the church to do its God-called duty,” Hildebrandt told The Epoch Times, adding that fundamental freedoms are being eroded “at a historically alarming rate.”
While Hildebrandt agrees that Canadian Charter rights to religious freedom and peaceful assembly are subject to reasonable limitations, the pastor doubts that the limitations currently imposed on churches are reasonable at all.
“The question is, what is essential? If faith and the communal expression of faith is not essential during times of crisis, is this an attack on faith?” he said, according to the Winnipeg Sun. “We are not asking for special treatment, just equal treatment.”
“There must be an allowable expression of faith that is deemed essential while we are allowing the sale of products at establishments that exist solely for the sale of alcohol, coffee, donuts, cannabis, and fast food,” Hildebrandt added.
“It is unprecedented in Canada to fine a church or a pastor for conducting their God-called duties,” he told Global News. “We condemn these actions and call on all law enforcement officials to cease enforcing unconstitutional orders immediately.”
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