“We feel like if we have grounds to stand on then we don’t feel like we should close,” Cole Smith, a youth pastor at Riverside Calvary Church, told Global News Monday, reading a statement from the church’s lead pastor.
He confirmed lawyers are now involved.
“We certainly are not looking for a fight, we just believe there has been many inconsistencies with what is essential and we simply decide to worship our Lord,” Smith added.
The church was fined $2,300 as all in-person services are currently suspended until at least Dec. 7.
“If there is data that churches relate to rising COVID cases then I’ll give it another thought,” Smith added on behalf of the lead pastor.
Last week, B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there had been transmission in such settings.
Lawyer Marty Moore, with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, said many are grappling with whether the provincial order suspending in-person religious services violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“The Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the right of faith communities to gather in worship. Faith communities have gone to extraordinary lengths to comply with these new measures, they care about their members but of course, for many Canadians, it’s essential for their emotional and spiritual well-being to attend weekly services,” Moore said.
He added it’s confusing for many Canadians who are able to still go to a restaurant and attend a business meeting but can’t attend a religious service and said it is “discriminatory treatment.”
“For the government to justify that, I think it’s a steep hill for them to climb,” Moore said.
He said a recent Supreme Court decision in the United States struck down an order in New York to limit religious gatherings.
“The order that Dr. Bonnie Henry has issued is categorical across the province, it is not narrowly tailored to a particular situation or outbreak,” Moore added, saying there is a “serious constitutional concern.”