US Senator Josh Hawley put forward a request to the US Commission on International Religious Freedoms to consider adding Canada to the national watchlist following detentions and arrests of pastors.
Notable pastors or church leaders who have been arrested include James Coates of Edmonton, Alberta and Tim Stephens of Calgary, Alberta. Other churches have been subjected to harassment, including Artur Pawlowski, whose video went viral following an incident at his church.
"I am writing to express my deep concern that [freedom to practice one's faith] is in peril across our nation's northern border. In recent months, there have been numerous instances of Canadian pastors being arrested and jailed for holding worship services that do not comply with COVID-19 regulations," the statement, released Thursday, reads.
"I am troubled that our Canadian neighbors are effectively being forced to gather in secret, undisclosed locations to exercise their basic freedom to worship," Hawley continues.
"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."
Hawley goes on to urge to Commission on International Religious Freedom to "take whatever action is necessary to address and rectify" the situation, and to add Canada to the Watch List.
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