Meanwhile, Up North Of The Border In Calgary…

Artur Pawlowski is the pastor of The StreetChurch up in Calgary, Alberta Canada.

It is fair to say that The Street Church and Pawlowski has had somewhat of a checkered past. He and his church have been fined for gatherings without a permit, trying to force their way into a private event, and holding anti-COVID mask rallies without wearing masks or having a permit. Pawloski is stridently anti-gay, and anti-Islam. Those views caused the church to lose their tax exempt status as in Canada, it is illegal to make statements condemning religions and “sexual identity.” (We disagree with that law as we are proponents of the United States Constitution’s version of the First Amendment.)

According to the Calgary Herald, on April 3, 2021, the church was visited by several officials from the province as well as police.

Officers did not issue any tickets after the preacher at a southeast Calgary church holding a religious gathering thought to be in violation of public health orders drove them away.

A Calgary police officer attended the Street Church, at 4315 26th Ave. S.E., alongside Alberta Health Services and city bylaw officials on Saturday afternoon.

There, they were met by controversial street preacher Artur Pawlowski, who began yelling at officers to leave the church.

“Immediately go out and don’t come back,” Pawlowski yelled at the six attending officers.

“I don’t care what you have to say. Out! Out! Out of this property, you Nazis.”

About a minute later, officers complied and exited the building. Pawlowski filmed the interaction and posted it online.

Pawlowski has been fined multiple times for violating public health orders.

Churches may hold services under current COVID-19 restrictions. However, they must limit capacity to 15 per cent, and attendees must wear masks and maintain physical distancing between households.

AHS said their inspector was not allowed to enter the church and was unable to confirm whether the gathering violating public health orders.

They said it’s more vital than ever that people follow measures meant to curb the spread of COVID-19, particularly as variant strains of the virus spread more widely.

“Our inspectors have an important job to do and we ask that business owners and organizations treat them with respect,” AHS said. “We stand by all of our public health inspectors who are doing an incredible job in trying and challenging circumstances.”

Calgary Police Service said in a statement they are often asked to attend calls involving health inspectors in order to keep the peace.

In a video that has gone viral, Pawlowski starts yelling at the officials and “drives them out of the church.”

The day afterward, the police issued a statement:

There are some people that are heralding Pawlowski as a hero for standing up to the police, throwing them out of the church, and demanding a warrant.

We believe that in some ways, those people are wrong.

First, Pawlowski is wrong on there being a need or requirement for a warrant. Canadian law, just like the law here in the US, allows health inspections and safety inspections without warning, without notice and without a warrant.

Whether that should be the case is a topic for another discussion, but the fact of the matter is that Pawlowski is wrong on the need for any type of warrant.

Secondly, Pawlowski’s repeated use of terms such as “Nazis,” “fascists,” “Communists,” “Gestapo,” etc., makes us think that Pawlowski is just throwing terms out there to inflame people rather than any real basis of belief that the terms apply to them. If Pawlowski wants to think that the Alberta Health Services, city bylaw officials, and the police are advocating throwing people into forced labor camps or into ovens, he has lost his mind. The Nazis also murdered homosexuals, who Pawlowski has stated do not deserve to live. Furthermore, if Pawlowski had any sense of history, he would have known that Communists and Nazis were bitter enemies. If nothing else, Pawlowski loses on the name calling because of Godwin’s law.

Third, the police aren’t there to investigate anything. They are there to protect representatives of the other two agencies. If you watch, the police follow the lead of the woman from Health Services. When she starts to go back down the stairs, the police go with her. Even though she has the legal right to press the issue, she chooses not to, and the police do not intervene.

Fourth, and this is something that through the pandemic we have struggled with, is “how much do Christians and churches have to accede to the authority of the state?”

Romans 13:1-2

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Throughout the Bible the edict seems to be clear: Christians should follow the law of the land unless the law contradicts God’s laws.

One could argue that restrictions on churches and gatherings runs into the command in the Bible for believers to meet and fellowship:

Hebrews 10: 24 – 25

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Can churches and fellowships still congregate in this time of COVID?

We think so. People can still practice mask wearing and social distancing – all the things that government say will stop or at least lessen the spread of COVID in a church. Our issue has been, and always will remain when churches are singled out for special regulations. We have seen in states like California, New York and Michigan where government mandates allow meetings and gatherings of some groups, but not churches. Courts have seen that as well and for the most part, when religious institutions are singled out for regulations that are more restrictive than others, the courts have struck them down.

It is our opinion that people have identified with Pawlowski because they are tired of government intervention in what seems to be every corner of their lives throughout the pandemic. The idea of a national “vaccine card” as proposed by President Biden plays into that as well. After all, Biden seems to think that states asking for ID’s to protect the right to vote is horrible, but to require an ID to be able to buy food is a good idea.

Still, we think that Pawlowski is a little off here. His stance on masks and other pandemic related issues was well known before the health inspectors showed up at the church. The fact that the government did not take action in arresting Pawlowski or continuing to remain on the property shows restraint that Pawlowski did not have.

The fact that he is yelling for a warrant shows that he, and others, are ignorant of the law. In Pawlowski’s case, he doesn’t seem to care what the law is which is why he had been fined before.

When you combine that with Christians being called to obey government officials (unless the government makes laws that contradict God’s laws) we are not sure if Pawlowski is more interested in making headlines or “feeding the flock.”

After all, we don’t seem to remember any commandment in the Bible or teachings from churches that wearing a mask being contrary to God’s laws. In fact, we lean toward the idea that instead of comforting and inspiring people during the pandemic, Pawlowski’s actions are more inflammatory than anything.

We are just uncomfortable with this whole situation on many levels.

Hopefully this pandemic will be winding down sooner than later, but we have deep concerns that governments at all levels will refuse to shutter programs and departments that will be no longer needed.

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