Protesters rallied at the Edmonton Remand Center yesterday to protest the ongoing lockup of Pastor James Coates, The GraceLife Church minister who remains quarantined in a maximum-security prison. Coates is the first religious leader to be arrested for preaching in Canada in nearly 200 years, the result of defying a public health order that caps indoor church services at 15% capacity, along with strict social distancing protocol, masking policies, and prohibitions on corporate worship.
After Coates was arrested he was given the opportunity to be released, despite the wishes of the prosecution. With no criminal record and health violations rarely if ever accompanied by jail time, the Judge was primed to set him free, but then put a condition on him that he not step foot on church property, and especially not call his church to worship again from the pulpit.
Refusing to abide by those conditions due to deep religious and personal conviction, Coates was remanded until one of three things happen.
- The Crown Prosecutor relents and abandons the conditions.
- His lawyer wins a successful appeal at his conditions hearing, which is set for February 24th.
- He has his trial , which could be several months away.
Thankfully, it seems he has not wasted his prison time, with confirmed reports that he has been preaching and sharing the gospel with those within earshot of him.
As a result of his confinement, a rally was held at the Remand Center, with shouts of “Free Pastor James” reverberating through the air. These protests and protesters are not affiliated with the church leadership, nor are they endorsed by the elders, but rather are regular folk wanting to be heard and show their support.
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