Jailed Canadian pastor to go free
by Charissa Koh
Posted 3/17/21, 04:56 pm
Prosecutors withdrew all but one charge against James Coates, his attorneys said Wednesday. The pastor’s church had continued gathering in person despite health orders in Edmonton, Alberta, limiting worship meetings to 15 percent capacity. After warnings and fines, authorities jailed Coates on Feb. 16, conditioning bail on his agreement to follow restrictions. Officials will likely release him in the next few days, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which is representing him, said Wednesday.
What happens next? Coates will stand trial May 3 for the remaining charge of violating an official health order. “We look forward to appearing in court in May and demanding the government provide evidence that public health restrictions that violate the freedoms of religion … are scientific and are justifiable in a free and democratic country,” Justice Centre President John Carpay said.
Dig deeper: Read Joshua Raimundo’s report about Canada cracking down on Coates and other churches over pandemic restrictions.
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Charissa is a WORLD reporter who often writes about poverty fighting and prison reform, including profiling ministries in the annual Hope Awards for Effective Compassion competition. She is also a part of WORLD's investigative unit, the Caleb Team. Charissa resides with her husband, Josh, in Austin, Texas. Follow her on Twitter @CharissaKoh.