Tim Stephens pastors Fairview Baptist Church in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He was just released this past weekend after spending two weeks in jail after Calgary police used a helicopter to track down where pastor Stephens was holding an outdoor church service.
On June 5, 2021, the Alberta Health Services (AHS) seized the church’s property and posted messages on its doors banning indoor services when Stephens refused to comply with Alberta’s health orders limiting church services.
As Stephens noted in his tweet, the same week AHS issued the ban, photos surfaced of several senior Alberta officials breaking the COVID restrictions.
As a result of that action, Stephens decided to hold services outdoors, which resulted in him being arrested in front of his children on June 14, 2021 on behalf of the AHS.
After hearing of the arrest US Senator, Josh Hawley of Missouri, approached the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom asking it to put Canada on its watch list.
“I am troubled that our Canadian neighbors are effectively being forced to gather in secret, undisclosed locations to exercise their basic freedom to worship. Frankly, I would expect this sort of religious crackdown in Communist China, not in a prominent Western nation like Canada. Canadian authorities’ arrest of faith leaders and seizure of church property, among other enforcement actions, appear to constitute systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”
On July 1, 2021, the Alberta government announced an end to all lockdown restrictions.