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Pastor acquitted of violating COVID-19 restrictions after 3 weeks in jail

A Canadian pastor has been acquitted of breaching coronavirus worship restrictions after spending 21 days in jail for holding religious services.

Pastor Tim Stephens of Fairview Baptist Church, located in Calgary, was acquitted by the Provincial Court of Alberta after going against public health rules imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Christian Post reports:

“A previous court ruling dropped four of the tickets levied against the pastor. The November 1 decision dealt with the remaining two. He was represented by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

‘We are pleased that the Court has acquitted Pastor Stephens on the charges of not complying with a public health order. Pastor Stephens was illegally arrested and imprisoned for having allegedly violated the Public Health Orders, which have since been shown to be ineffective and harmful. This decision sets the record straight about the justifiability of his actions and about the importance of respecting Charter rights and freedoms,’ the law firm said in a statement.”

The pastor also elaborated on what he went through over the past year in a blog post published on the church’s website.

“‘After a trial on September 15, 2021, where I took the stand to make my defense on two counts of violating the Chief Medical Officer’s COVID health orders, the written decision was given by the judge. In short, the judge found me not guilty,’ Stephens wrote. 

Stephens listed the charges he faced throughout his legal battle: ‘3 [Public Health Act] violations for failing to wear a mask — all withdrawn; 2 PHA violations for exceeding capacity limit — both withdrawn; 2 PHA violations for failing to physical distance — went to trial, acquitted on both counts; 1 contempt of court charge — spent 3 days in jail, then withdrawn; 1 criminal charge for violating a court order — spent 18 days in jail, then withdrawn; 1 PHA violation against the church — waiting to schedule the trial.'” 

The ruling focused on tickets issued as a result of church services held on February 28, 2021, and March 7, 2021, that authorities stated did not comply with social distancing requirements and other worship restrictions.

“Stephens characterized the decision as a ‘small victory’ that he attributed to ‘the special providence of God.’

‘In God’s plan, it was this judge presiding over the matter who seemed to have no desire to continue the heavy-handed use of the law to punish dissenting opinions,’ he concluded. ‘As I reflect on recent events, I’m certainly pleased with the outcome, yet I realize there is more work to be done. Our society with its laws, mandates, and opinions reflect a change of ‘god’ with corresponding views of authority and humanity that will lead to dystopia unless there is repentance.'”

Read the full article here.

Photo credit: YouTube screenshot/ Western Standard

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