Canadian Judge Bans Churches Holding Drive-In Services, Pastors Hit with Heavy Fines
'These orders necessarily restrict rights … in order to prevent death'
Pastors at the Springs Church in Manitoba, Canada, have been told they face fines over $32,000 for holding church drive-in services in their province.
The Springs Church in Winnipeg applied to hold drive-in services but was denied by Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Glenn Joyal.
The church was told they violated the province’s public health order, which forbids in-person religious gatherings.
“The congregation attending in cars are persons,” Joyal argued.
“They are persons who have attended for a common purpose.”
“These orders necessarily restrict rights … in order to prevent death, illness and the overwhelming of the public health system in Manitoba,” Joyal further ruled.
“I do not believe that the applicants meet their burden of showing that [the church] will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted,” the judge added.
The church and two pastors who defied the public health order have been fined more than $32,000.
The order prohibits places of worship from being open to the public.
Lockdown orders in the province also ban stores from selling non-essential items and render visitors in private homes illegal.
Pastor Leon Fontaine, who has been fined $5,000, said:
“We have to ask ourselves why the government has deemed it unsafe for Manitobans to drive to their place of worship with their windows rolled up for the entirety of a service and practice their faith.
“We believe that Manitobans can have their right to practice their faith upheld while simultaneously upholding government COVID-19 prevention rules.
“I know that with the united voice of our community, regardless of your faith, we can show our elected politicians that they can innovate [and] keep COVID-19 measures in place while looking for ways to safely bolster the spirit of our community and protect Canadian Charter rights,” Fontaine added.
50 other pastors accused Fontaine of being “not an example of following Christ" for defying the order.
We find that your insistence on the right to worship is not in keeping with Christ’s command to love our neighbor. We find that your actions disregard the dangers of COVID-19 in our community and that they only serve to create potential harm for our healthcare system, and healthcare workers already pushed beyond capacity.
Neon Nettle reported earlier this month that local police blocked cars from the entrance of the church of God Steinbach, resulting in them being lined up in the nearby street in order to hear Senior Pastor Heinrich Hildebrandt preach from over a loudspeaker.
“God has given us the right to worship Him together, and He wants to see His people united,” Hildebrandt preached.
“It seems like we’re living in a different Canada."
The Church of God at Steinbach was fined $5,000 last week for holding services and defying the “draconian and unconstitutional orders.”