Three BC churches hire far-right Alberta group to stop restrictions on in-person church services

Three BC churches have hired John Carpay's far-right Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom in effort to continue in-person church services during pandemic.

The Canadian Press with CNC files

VANCOUVER — British Columbia's provincial health officer and attorney general are asking for a court injunction ordering three churches to follow public health rules banning in-person religious services.

The application in B.C. Supreme Court comes after the churches filed a petition challenging the province's prohibition on services, arguing they violate people's rights and freedoms.

The churches are represented by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a right-wing Calgary group headed by John Carpay who made headlines in 2018 when he compared the Nazi swastika to the pro-gay rainbow flag, arguing both were "hostile to individualism."

The Riverside Calvary Chapel in Langley, the Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church in Abbotsford and Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack filed the petition last month.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says in her response to the petition that the ban on indoor gatherings, including in-person religious services, is necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19 in B.C.

She says transmission of the virus seems highest in settings of sustained interpersonal interaction indoors or in enclosed spaces, and loud talking, chanting and singing also increase spread.



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