Canadian pastor jailed for holding church service freed

Artur Pawlowski
Artur Pawlowski, the pastor of Street Church in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, speaks after evicting law enforcement from his church after they entered without a warrant to break up a Passover service. |

A Canadian pastor who was briefly jailed for breaking public health orders by holding religious services despite ongoing lockdown restrictions has compared his situation to those living in Hong Kong, where Christians are routinely persecuted for worshiping. gather for worship.

In an interview with Newsmax hours after his release from prison on Monday evening, Artur Pawlowski, pastor of Street Church in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, said: “I just woke up in Hong Kong a few days ago. I mean, I thought I emigrated to our beloved Canada, but I’m in Hong Kong, strong.

“This is madness – arrest the pastor[s], closing the churches. Madness,” Pawlowski added, reports The Epoch Times.

Pawlowski and his brother, Dawid Pawlowski, were arrested on Saturday for holding an “unlawful” in-person gathering under COVID-19 restrictions set by a new court order. Both were released on Monday evening.

“Earlier today, police arrested two church service organizers who were violating a new court order obtained by Alberta Health Services (AHS) regarding mandatory compliance with public health orders for gatherings,” the official said. Calgary Police Service in a statement. Saturday.

Video posted to YouTube shows the Calgary Police Department dispatched at least five police vehicles to arrest the two on the street. The brothers knelt in the road and refused to walk alone during the arrest.

A voice can be heard telling the officers, “Shame on you guys, it’s not Communist China. You don’t have family and children? What happened to ‘Canada, God keep our land glorious and free?’ »

In its statement, the Calgary Police Department said it “proactively” served “an organizer of a religious service with the court order to ensure that citizens attending the Saturday service complied with the orders of current public health of COVID-19”.

The Pawlowski brothers “have both been arrested and charged with arranging an unlawful assembly in person, including requesting, inducing or inviting others to attend an unlawful public assembly, promoting and attending a unlawful public gathering,” he added.

In China, churches are being monitored and ordered to close across the country, whether they are underground or part of the Patriotic Three-Self Movement, the officially sanctioned Protestant church in China. Hundreds of pastors and church members have been fined or imprisoned for their faith.

Chinese Christians have also been ordered to renounce their faith and replace Jesus posters with portraits of Chairman Mao and Chairman Xi Jinping.

Pawlowski, who was born in Poland and lived under Soviet rule for part of his childhood, told Newsmax: “I became, together with my brother, a political prisoner. We were taken into custody, thrown onto the police van like a piece of meat, and denied access to counsel for 24 hours.”

“It’s horrible. It’s a repeat of history,” Pawlowski said. “I grew up behind the iron curtain. I saw the police abuse their power, people get arrested — we could be arrested at five o’clock in the morning, you could break down doors for no reason, just listening to European radio, [would] mandate them to torture you, arrest you and throw you in prison for five years.

“I escaped communism. I fled Poland because I wanted to come to a free country,” Pawlowski added. “And here we are again, repeating the same mistakes, the same story. And I have to stand up and fight for my rights – not to do wrong, just to open [the] church for people who freely want to come and worship their God.

Alberta announced new mandatory health restrictions on May 4 to “help stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health care system,” including new restrictions prohibiting all indoor gatherings, public or private.

Pawlowski made headlines earlier this year after sharing a video documenting the police visit to his church last month. In it, he expelled police officers from his church and compared them to the Nazi paramilitary forces of the Gestapo.

“I don’t care what you have to say, outside!” Pawlowski can be heard say at the time. “Get off this property, you Nazis. Get out! The Gestapo are not allowed here. Don’t come back, you Nazi psychopaths. Incredibly sick, evil people.

Pawlowski isn’t the only pastor to have argued with authorities over COVID-19 restrictions on places of worship.

Despite the prospect of fines and the threat of jail time over his refusal to comply with California’s COVID-19 regulations, Grace Community Church pastor John MacArthur maintained that he was of the biblical responsibility of the church to stay open and hold worship services.

He also urged other pastors to open their churches and Christians to sign a petition to see the church as “essential”.

“There is another virus loose in the world, and it is the virus of deception,” the 81-year-old pastor told his congregation. “And the one behind the virus of deception is the arch-deceiver Satan himself.”