News

The Underground Church Is Not Just in China…Canada Now Holds Record for Most Pastors Arrested in Any Democratic Country

It’s one of the stories that is not being promoted by most of the news media today. Regarding the free expression of worship in the church, the government of Canada is looking a whole lot more like the government in China.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, located in the Calgary area, has been advocating in court on behalf of jailed pastors and harassed churches in Canada. They just released a new documentary giving details on how the federal and provincial governments are increasingly resembling communist China. The film is called “The Government War on Worship,” and it can be viewed on the Justice Centre’s website.

The documentary begins by showing how Christians are brutally persecuted in China despite the guarantee of religious freedom in the Chinese Constitution. And then it shifts to make parallels between China’s tactics and how churches in Canada have been treated since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged.

“It’s exactly like communist China,” said John Carpay, the president of the Justice Centre. Carpay has talked about the case against Edmonton pastor James Coates. He was arrested in February and his church, GraceLife, was forced to go underground when the police barricaded the building.

“Pastor Coates and GraceLife Church have been quite public about the fact that they are continuing to meet and worship every Sunday, and they’re doing so in secret. And in rural Alberta, there are thousands and thousands of big barns and all kinds of private properties where church services can be held and are being held,” Carpay said. “There’s no science to back this up,” he continued regarding the lingering lockdowns. “But the more clear that it becomes that there’s no science to back up these orders, the more repressive they become and the more aggressive the government becomes in enforcing these unscientific public health orders.”

The documentary also tells the story of Pastor Artur Pawlowski, who was arrested in the middle of a busy highway on his way home from his Calgary church. He was dragged into a police van after refusing to allow health bureaucrats to interrupt his worship service. The pastor maintains that some of the prison guards mistreated and mocked him because of his Christian faith.

The film adds the story of Pastor Tim Stephen’s arrest. He is also from the Calgary area. His church, Fairview Baptist, was locked by authorities when they continued to meet together. Pastor Stephens was eventually released after the Justice Centre argued that the court order under which he was arrested did not apply to him. Last week Stephens was arrested again when a police helicopter found where his church was secretly gathering outdoors. Apparently, the arresting officer quoted Jesus while his children cried as he was being taken away.

Also in the film is the case of Pastor Henry Hildebrandt and his Church of God in Aylmer, Ontario. His church was also locked by authorities when they continued to gather. The church and the pastors, who continue to meet outdoors, face more than $250,000 in fines and legal fees.

Achnes Smith, a member of GraceLife, said that when their pastor was taken to prison, the government thought that they would scatter…but the exact opposite happened.

“Some people drove five hours to come to our church service,” Smith continued. “And our attendance doubled.”

Smith also talked about how her father, who was subjected to slave labor for refusing to obey an order from the Third Reich to fight against his own countrymen, would be “absolutely astounded” by what the Canadian government is doing.

“The underground church is not just in China anymore,” the documentary concludes, noting how Alberta now holds the record for the most Christian pastors arrested in any democratic country.