B.C. churches flout COVID-19 health restrictions, proceed with indoor Easter services

Click to play video: 'Some B.C. churches defy indoor services’ ban on Easter Sunday'
Some B.C. churches defy indoor services’ ban on Easter Sunday
Several churches in our province went ahead with in-person services on Easter Sunday, despite a public health order banning indoor faith gatherings. Paul Johnson reports. – Apr 4, 2021

Amid surging COVID-19 numbers, some B.C. churches are going ahead with in-person Easter Sunday services, despite a health order banning indoor religious gatherings.

At Langley’s Riverside Calvary Chapel, worshipers could be seen arriving Sunday morning.

One congregant came out to tell Global news he didn’t trust provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“Doctors are up and down all the time, whether it’s margarine, butter, this, that and everything.”

“They don’t tell any of us people that pay their wages at all what’s really going on. They come up with all these stats all the time. How do I know if they’re true or not? … I don’t want to live in China, I don’t want to live in North Korea. This supposedly used to be a good country.”

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Click to play video: 'Easter and Passover celebrations in Peterborough go virtual this year'
Easter and Passover celebrations in Peterborough go virtual this year

The chapel has previously been ticketed by the RCMP for operating in contravention of a provincial health order.

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The church’s website advertised waitlists for five fully booked services on Sunday.

It was one of 11 B.C. churches listed on the Liberty Coalition Canada website as a part of the “We Will Gather” initiative, listing churches that plan to hold services Sunday in defiance of local COVID-19 health restrictions.

READ MORE: Appeal of ban on in-person religious gatherings filed in B.C.’s top court

The province had initially intended to allow a variance through April and part of may to allow religions to celebrate major spring holidays indoors, but rescinded the exception on Monday as a part of its three-week “circuit breaker.”

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The province recorded more than 6,000 cases this week, and set new all time records on both Friday and Saturday, with more than 1,000 new cases each day.

On Friday, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth called churches who flout the rules “irresponsible,” particularly given that outdoor services are permitted.

Last month, the B.C. Supreme Court upheld the province’s restrictions on religious gatherings, ruling that it was a reasonable infringement on religious liberty.

A group including Riverside Calvary Chapel and two other Fraser Valley churches is appealing that decision.

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