Canadian law enforcement has issued its second fine to a church for holding an in-person worship service against a government order banning such gatherings as a precaution against COVID-19.
Langley Cpl. Holly Largy of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police confirmed the fine levied against Riverside Calvary Church of Langley, British Columbia.
"[A ticket was issued to the church] for conducting an in-person service [on January 3] in contravention of the Provincial Health Order on Sunday," Largy told the Penticton Western News last week. "Attendees were seen in the church without masks during the service."
Even though stores and other businesses in British Columbia remain open while they administer social distancing protocol, the province passed an order effectively banning indoor events on Nov. 19, when an increase in coronavirus cases was detected, according to local news in Victoria, Canada.
Some attendees of Riverside Calvary Church believe the government is exceeding its authority in shutting down Christians' freedom to worship, with one member saying the fine was a clear illustration of government "overreach."
"I understand they're doing their job, but it's excessive," the anonymous church member insisted while noting that he does not condemn the police for enforcing the provincial order, according to CBN News.
On Nov. 29, police entered the sanctuary of Riverside Calvary while investigating a complaint that the church was holding in-person worship services, and they followed up by issuing the church its first citation.
Lead pastor Brent Smith pointed out that there has been much debate as to whether church services are considered "essential" – as grocery and home improvements stores are – and he insisted that Christians have the right to congregate and worship.
"We just believe there have been many inconsistencies with what is essential, and we simply desire to worship our Lord in a safe and biblical way," Smith told BC Local News.
The trend of increasing governmental power grabs to assume more and more control – initiated by the COVID-19 pandemic – will continue to increase, says assistant pastor Randy Dyck.
"Every government is soon going to force a very different – and sadly, very evil – lifestyle on the world," Dyck declared in a YouTube video that he posted last week. "The reality is that the Bible teaches a world government that will be anti-God and a world government that will reject the Scriptures [will come into power in the End Times]."
During a mid-December meeting with representatives from 19 area churches, it was revealed that an estimated six to ten of the churches have been fined for defying the Nov. 19 Provincial Health Order.