Editor of the Pipestone Flyer Shaela Dansereau

Editor of the Pipestone Flyer Shaela Dansereau

OPINION: GraceLife Church needs to be shut down

I have been very patient with following provincial guidelines and the phases set out for re-opening by the provincial government during this part of Alberta’s COVID journey.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been frustrated, but I’ve been patient.

What baffles me is the sheer audacity of some people in this province and the willingness of the government to look the other way when it comes to mass groups breaking COVID regulations specifically religious institutions. Mainly GraceLife Church just outside of Edmonton.

I am furious that their narcissistic, self-idolizing Pastor, James Coates, was released from the Edmonton Remand Centre, especially when everyone knew he would go right back to breaking COVID protocols. He was arrested in the first place for breaking these protocols, and then put in the Remand Centre for failing to comply with his bail conditions.

I have been furious for weeks that this church, which by no means represents all other churches in Alberta because I know plenty that disagree with their actions, has been allowed to continue with their massive Sunday services without so much as a slap on the wrist.

And I’m sure you guessed it, Coates showed up this past Sunday for the first time since being released from the Remand Centre.

In all the reports about the church that I have seen, RCMP have been present to dissuade the gatherings, however, every week they state that they do not have the authority to close the establishment. Well then lets get somebody who can!

This church has been a thorn in Albertan’s sides for months as we fight COVID-19. You can’t tell me that if the provincial government wanted action taken that it wouldn’t have happened already. I think what Jason Kenney needs to remember is as a responsible Premier all institutions need to be governed equally, and that includes religious institutions.

The fact that Coates went running back to his COVID denying flock the second he was released, proves what we all knew, that he hadn’t learned his lesson in the least. But why would he when the government keeps giving him chance after chance with no real reprecussions?

How does Jason Kenney expect Albertans to continue to follow COVID restrictions when they are shown every week that they won’t actually face consequences if they do whatever they want? Allowing Coates to walk and continue to lead services every Sunday is a bold statement on Alberta’s restriction priorities.

There needs to be a health inspector or officer come through, close that church’s doors, bolt them closed, and tell the members that they can go back in when they learn to behave.

But I doubt that will happen. And unfortunately I can bet that next Sunday GraceLife will be back at it again.


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