Tim Stephens, the pastor of Fairview Baptist church in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, has been acquitted after being charged with holding church services in 2021 in violation of the province’s social distancing rules.
The police even used a helicopter to track him down after the government learned he was holding outdoor services.
Stephens was arrested twice, including once in front of his children. Several pastors across Canada were arrested over allegations that they broke COVID lockdown rules.
In his court case, Stephens was represented by lawyers with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF).
In its release announcing Stephen’s acquittal, JCCF stated:
“Pastor Stephens was illegally arrested and imprisoned for having allegedly violated the Public Health Orders, which have since been shown to be ineffective and harmful. This decision sets the record straight about the justifiability of his actions and about the importance of respecting Charter rights and freedoms.”
JCCF’s new release also provided details which led to Stephen’s two arrests and subsequently spending 21 days in jail:
On May 6, 2021, Associate Chief Justice John Rooke of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench issued what might be the broadest restraining order in common law history. Justice Rooke’s injunction allowed police to arrest and detain immediately and take before the court any Albertan who exercised her or his Charter freedoms in the face of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s unscientific and unconstitutional lockdown orders and restrictions.
On May 13, 2021, at the request of the Justice Centre, the injunction was amended by the Court of Queen’s Bench to apply only to persons associated with the Whistle Stop Café. Nonetheless, on May 16, 2021, Pastor Tim Stephens of Fairview Baptist Church was unlawfully arrested for allegedly violating the terms of the injunction, even though he had no association with the Café and had not been served notice of the injunction. Pastor Stephens was released after spending three days in the Calgary Remand Centre.
Pastor Stephens was again arrested on June 14, 2021, for having allegedly conducted an outdoor church service violating a court order. As a result, he spent an additional 18 days in jail before being released on July 1, 2021. At the time of his release, the Public Health Orders in question had been revoked.
In addition, Stephens and his church were fined six times, four of which have since been dropped, JCCF reports.