James Coates: Pastor of GraceLife Church Jailed for Refusing to Comply With COVID-19 Mandates
James Coates is the pastor of GraceLife Church in Alberta, Canada who was jailed for refusing to comply with COVID-19 mandates issued by Alberta Health Services.
James Coates is the pastor of GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada who was jailed for refusing to comply with COVID-19 mandates issued by Alberta Health Services. The preacher’s jail time is the result of a series of health department inspections and requests to comply with coronavirus regulations.
Alberta Health Services inspector Janine Hanrahan issued an order against GraceLife in December, ordering members of the church and staff wear masks on the property, maintain six feet distance and operate at 15% or less capacity. , directly mandating the church to ensure all congregants, staff members, and leaders are wearing masks while on the property, to enforce social distancing of at least six feet between all persons, and to restrict occupancy of the facility to 15% or less of the building’s total operational capacity. On January 21, the health department filed court documents to enforce the order through the court system. It specified AHS had the power to jail the minister if he did not comply. At the end of January, AHS issued another order demanding he close the church until it was brought into compliance.
Police visited Coates following church services February 7, 2021, and told him he would be arrested. He turned himself in the following Tuesday, according to FaithWire.
Church staff issued a lengthy statement explaining their reasonings for refusing to comply with the orders.
“What do we believe people should do? We believe they should responsibly return to their lives. Churches should open, businesses should open, families and friends should come together around meals, and people should begin to exercise their civil liberties again,” the statement said in part. “Otherwise we may not get them back. In fact, some say we are on the cusp of reaching the point of no return. Protect the vulnerable, exercise reasonable precautions, but begin to live your lives again.”