Nova Scotia pastor brags about defying public health order in online video

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WATCH: A Nova Scotia pastor has been found bragging to his members about ignoring the public health order in a YouTube video. The pastor attended a multi-day faith gathering that lead to an outbreak of COVID -19 in October. He says his congregation won't stop singing, despite it being prohibited under public health guidance. Alicia Draus reports – Jan 27, 2022

A Baptist pastor who attended a multi-day faith gathering in October 2021 that led to a COVID-19 outbreak linked to three deaths says his congregation will continue to sing, despite the public health order.

In a video posted to YouTube on Monday for his congregation, pastor Brandon Lake criticized the government’s COVID-19 restrictions, saying that freedoms are being stripped away.

Read more: Nova Scotia pastor believes multi day event linked to virus outbreak followed rules

“We tend to forget about it sometimes but we are actually under a rule right now in our province that you’re not allowed to sing in church,” said Lake.

Singing has been considered a high-risk activity during COVID-19 because of the spread of aerosol droplets. Due to the Omicron variant being highly contagious, faith groups have been advised that congregational singing is not permitted at this time in Nova Scotia. That includes choirs and groups of singers. Singing can still be performed by a single singer during a faith gathering.

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“I’m not going to stop singing praises to my Lord in my church because some knothead up in Halifax thought it’d be a good idea to tell people to stop that,” said Lake in his video.

Lake was among dozens of people who attended a multi-day faith event hosted by Gospel Light Baptist Church in Amherst. The host of the event did not require that attendees show proof of vaccination, which went against public health orders at the time.

That event was then linked to a spike in COVID-19 cases in both the Northern and Western health zones as well as an outbreak at the Easter Cumberland Lodge seniors home in Pugwash, N.S. Three deaths were ultimately linked to cases stemming from the event.

The host of the event, pastor Robert Smith, was issued a fine by the province’s enforcement team of $2,422.

Click to play video: 'Pastor behind multi-day faith gathering fined' Pastor behind multi-day faith gathering fined
Pastor behind multi-day faith gathering fined – Nov 17, 2021

At the time, Amherst police were criticized for not enforcing the public health order. The police department says it is working with other investigative agencies on this and a decision has not yet been made on further charges.

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As for the latest matter, Amazing Grace Baptist Church falls under RCMP jurisdiction. While RCMP say they are not aware of any investigation into the church, Premier Tim Houston says the province’s enforcement team is now looking into this latest matter.

“It’s ridiculous with what Nova Scotians have been through, and the pandemic and the pressures on all Nova Scotians, for anyone to ignore public health orders,” said Houston.

But Lake disputes that his congregation is “ignoring” rules.

Speaking to Global News by phone on Wednesday, Lake said they have been following rules.

“We have been in compliance, and will continue to be in compliance, and we’re also going to comply to God’s mandate, too, and that’s all I’m going to say,” said Lake.

Read more: N.S. hikes fines, creates new penalty for those flouting COVID-19 rules

The pastor would not confirm or deny that his congregation was continuing to sing, only saying that he’d let the video “speak for itself.”

But when pressed further on why his congregation was ignoring the public health order that says congregational singing is not allowed, he took issue with the word “ignore.”

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“I would say we are very, very far from ignoring public health orders,” said Lake.

“Ignoring is giving no thought, paying no heed, and that is far, far from what we’re doing.”

Lake stressed that his congregation was following public health orders such as wearing masks and physical distancing.

“We’ve done everything that’s been asked of us specifically that does not contract with our clear direction within the scripture.”

After Lake spoke with Global News, the video, along with other daily videos posted by Lake, was taken down.

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