In America, churches have been shuttered for many months depending on the state. While some pastors have bravely opened their doors, pushing back against arbitrary lockdown restrictions, many churches have simply remained closed. In Canada, a team of officers—a Calgary police officer, officials from Alberta Health Services, and the City of Calgary Bylaw services—interrupted a service last Saturday night in an attempt to harass the pastor, Artur Pawlowski. He wasn't happy to see them. His response, which is recorded, went viral.
Pawlowski barely lets the female officer, who appears to be leading the group, say a word when he tells her and the rest of her companions to get out. He yells "Get out!" or "Out of this property now!" repeatedly.
The furious pastor escalates toward the end of the video unleashing a verbal tirade filled with the kind of righteous indignation men of courage seem to have. "Don't come back you Nazi psychopaths. Unbelievable. Sick. Evil people. Intimidating people in a church during the Passover! You Gestapo Nazi Communist Fascists. Passover. The holiest Christian festival in a year and they're coming to intimate christians during the holiest festival," Pawlowski says looking into the camera.
He told the Daily Caller this wasn't the first time he'd seen the group of officers—they had been harassing him for about 13 months—and perhaps explains his visceral reaction to their ongoing campaign to disrupt churches under the guise of mandated lockdowns.
"If they want to talk or inspect the building, they can call me and we can arrange that," the pastor explained to the Daily Caller. But instead of meeting with him, he said, 'they preferred a method of storming.'"
"I asked them to get out, and they would not move," the pastor told the publication. "So everything started to intensify. And I raised my voice, and I said it again and again and again, and they just didn't want to go."
"The organizer of the gathering was uncooperative with the health inspector, and repeatedly raised his voice asking all parties to leave the premises, which they did approximately one minute after entry and in a peaceful manner," the Calgary Police said in a statement about the incident.
Canada has continued to impose restrictive lockdowns in parts of the country where cases have surged. Ontario has just imposed another month-long lockdown with experts predicting the only way cyclical lockdowns will end is by distributing vaccines countrywide.
"When you have a significant proportion of your population vaccinated, things start to get better," infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch told CTV's Your Morning.
"You can look at places like Israel, the U.K., many parts of the United States, even here in Canada, you can look at places like long term care, which in the middle of a third wave has very, very few cases, whereas in waves one and waves two it was awful."
Not only was Pastor Pawlowski fully justified in his powerful diatribe—who wouldn't be after being subject to harassment for that long?—but it's the kind of courage often only seen in areas where a person's faith is being questioned, squelched, or persecuted.
In the United States, where churches were shuttered for various amounts of time by state, some pastors did push back—others filed lawsuits, and yet still others remained quiet. Some churches in California just reopened a couple months ago: A travesty for pastors, people of faith, and for free-exercise rights in America.
Courage is difficult in unprecedented times, but the United States possesses a kind of freedom, enshrined in her very founding, few other pastors in other parts of the world can even rely on—yet they too often find the courage to stand strong in their right to worship freely and have paid for it, even with their lives.
While most churches in America are slowly opening, what would have happened if American pastors had stood up to statewide lockdowns that were arbitrary, random, and overly restrictive? It was inspiring to see Pastor Pawlowski's defiance wrapped in a compelling tirade of righteous indignation, calling out the dictatorial police and health authorities for what they are behaving like: Nazi, Gestapo, Communist, Fascists. Would that Americans will look at this example and call upon this kind of courage if the time ever comes again.