Canadian Pastor James Coates faithfully preached the Word of God each Sunday, but never dreamed he’d end up behind bars because of it.
However, when the government demanded he reduce his church capacity for the sake of COVID-19 “safety measures” and he refused – they decided to throw him in prison.
Despite the fact he isn’t a criminal, and numerous pleas to release him have been made, a ruthless judge has ordered he remain behind bars until May when his trial will take place.
James Coates is a peaceful man who simply wants to preach the Word of God to his congregants.
When COVID-19 restrictions first began, he complied and held worship services online – but once restrictions began to loosen, he felt compelled to reopen his church and let whoever wanted to worship to come.
His lawyer James Kitchen has been clear – Coates wasn’t seeking to defy the government. However, when forced to choose between serving Christ or the government, he would always choose Christ.
His wife Erin tried to explain to the judge all the chaos and heartbreak that occurred from taking a pastor away from his flock, and a husband and father away from his family.
The Toronto Star reported:
“In an affidavit, Coates’s wife Erin Coates told the judge that since he was taken into custody at the Edmonton Remand Centre, he has lost weight and can’t sit for too long because of pain in his neck.
“The days since February 16 have been very stressful for our two sons, aged 11 and 18,” she said.
“Many congregants of GraceLife rely on James for counselling regarding marriages and personal problems such as addictions. I have observed that many children at GraceLife Church are heartbroken that James is in jail. They are confused and concerned about him.”
But Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Peter Michalyshyn doesn’t care about James Coates faith or freedom to worship, and he doesn’t care about the desperate cries from his mourning wife.
Instead, he doubled down claiming Coates is still “subject to the rule of law.”
The Edmonton Journal reported:
“Michalyshyn said that Coates’ strongly held religious beliefs aside, “beliefs and convictions, without more, do not overcome those valid and enforceable laws.”
“He remains subject to the rule of law.”
James Kitchen, Coates’ lawyer, said his client’s decision to not adhere to the undertaking — which required him to stop holding church services without social distancing or capacity limits — is a matter of conscience.”
So, Pastor Coates remains behind bars.
If he were to agree to bail conditions – which would include him forcing his congregation to wear masks, socially distance, and limit capacity – Coates feels he’d be disobeying God.
Let’s remember to pray for Pastor Coates during this difficult time – that he will remain strong in the faith.
In addition, let’s pray for a supernatural miracle, that God will soften the heart of this harsh judge and reunite James Coates back with his congregation and loved ones.
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