The congregation held a service on Sunday at the Fellowship Baptist Church of Saskatoon, and there are questions as to whether they have violated public health orders designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
On Sunday, Global News saw 34 people either enter the building or on the church’s livestream. Neighbors said the congregations arrived before Global News arrived. Current provincial health guidelines restrict religious ceremonies to 30 people, not including clergy or staff. Global News cannot say for sure how many of the people who entered the building were employees or clergy.
The government of Saskatchewan paid a $ 14,000 fine on March 11, exceeding the threshold it had already accumulated.
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Most people, families with children, used the back door on Sunday morning.
Parking was largely empty but many neighbors said that most of the cars on the side street belonged to churchgoers. Global News saw many people parked nearby and walking to the church.
When asked if he was worried about COVID-19, a congregation responded, “Why do I want to?”
Another participant also said that he was not worried.
He said, “I am very young and there is a very good chance I will survive it if I get it.”
When asked if he thought he would spread it to others, he replied, “I don’t think I have it.”
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Global News tried to contact the church several times over several days. No one answered many calls or emails and no one opened the door before the church service began.
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Church services across the country have been superspreader events. In December, dozens of people were infected at the Full Gospel Outreach in Prince Albert in a service that lasted several days.
Other circles have protested. The Alberta RCMP arrested a man in April at GraceLife Church outside Edmonton.
Last week, the Saskatoon Church showed a notice on its front door stating that no police could enter “or any party working on behalf of the government”.
“If trespass is found, you will be prosecuted under the Trapas Act applicable. If you intend to disrupt religious proceedings or services, you will be charged… ”
In January, the pastor, Steve Flippin, posted a blog titled “Closing the Church.”
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In it, he argued that the role of the church in a crisis is to meet and support people.
“The church is far more important than the hospital,” he wrote.
“The hospital only provides therapy for this life, but provides nothing for the reality of life to come.”
On Sunday, the website said, “Yes, we are worshiping the person (sic) for morning worship on Sunday (10:30 am)! Everyone who joins the puja is welcome to join us.”
A lawyer said the health guidelines violate the right to worship, but the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom allowed it.
“Under Section 1 of our charter, every right in Canada can be violated,” Brian Fefferle said while speaking on the phone.
“And there is often a misconception that, because your freedom has been violated, it does not mean that you automatically win.”
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He said the issue was a “fertile ground” for a constitutional challenge and said that any violation of rights and freedoms needed serious debate.
The charter states that rights and freedoms are “subject to such reasonable limits set by law as may be reasonably justifiable in a free and just society.”
Fefferley – who said he is religious and now attends an online service every Sunday – told Global News that the courts must decide what is appropriate.
He said that the right to worship in groups would be weighed in the same way he called “unprecedented death and unprecedented massacre” coined by COVID-19.
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