Alberta Pastor Timothy Stephens of Fairview Baptist Church was released from the Calgary Remand Center early Thursday after being jailed on Monday June 14 for defying public health orders.
A news release from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, who has been working towards Stephens’ release, also confirmed that both Fairview Baptist Church in Calgary, and GraceLife Church near Edmonton, have been "released from government seizure" and returned to their congregations.
The centre has been working on Stephens’ release since "it was announced that the Whistle Stop Café Injunction would be set aside, and that all orders of the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) would be rescinded and cancelled."
Stephens was first arrested on May 16 in connection to this Whistle Stop injunction for holding a church service, and spent two nights in jail. He was arrested again on June 14 for defying public health orders.
Stephens’ June 14 arrest was connected to an outdoor church service he held for around 200 Fairview Baptist Church congregants on June 6. "A police helicopter was deployed to search for and detect this peaceful outdoor gathering, and to collect evidence against Pastor Stephens of non-compliance with public health restrictions," reads the statement.
"The Pastor was charged with an offence under s.127 of the Criminal Code of Canada, alleging failure or refusal to comply with a Court Order. The Alberta government has failed to produce any evidence that outdoor services are a threat to public health," it continues.
Stephens was arrested by the Calgary Police Service on June 14 in front of his wife and eight children.
"Alberta’s public health orders are subject to Charter challenges in two separate court actions, both dating back to 2020. Thus far the Alberta Government has failed to produce any medical or scientific evidence, in either court action, that might justify the violation of fundamental Charter freedoms by public health orders," wrote the Justice Centre in connection to Stephens’ second arrest.
"While refusing to present any medical or scientific evidence in court to justify public health orders, the Alberta government has gained international notoriety by jailing three different pastors," states Jay Cameron, Justice Centre Litigation Director.
Stephens is out on bail, with Crown Prosecutor Steven Johnston refusing to amend his bail conditions. Stephens must "agree to obey what are now, as of July 1, non-existent health orders. Pastor Stephens’ refusal to agree to obey the nonexistent orders would have required him to remain in custody until his trial on July 14, 2021," the news release states.
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