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Canada drops COVID charges against Baptist church

Canadian drivers protest government COVID restrictions in Ontario, 2022. Associated Press/ Photo by Ted Shaffrey

Canada drops COVID charges against Baptist church

Canadian Crown prosecutors dropped all charges Tuesday against Fairview Baptist Church in Calgary, Alberta, for violating a public health order during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pastor Timothy Stephens and the church were charged in May 2021. Authorities arrested Stephens at the church, and he spent 18 days in jail. A federal judge found Stephens not guilty in November 2022 after a trial, acquitting him of all charges he faced. The Crown formally withdrew all other charges against Fairview Baptist Church under the precedent set by Ingram v. Alberta.

What happened in Ingram v. Alberta? Fairview was not the only group charged for violating health orders during the pandemic. Heights Baptist Church and Northside Baptist Church were plaintiffs in Ingram v. Alberta. The Court of King’s Bench of Alberta on Aug. 1 ruled that some public health orders were invalid due to being improperly set by elected leaders rather than the Chief Medical Officer of Health, a medical doctor. The charges for violating those orders were also invalidated.

Dig deeper: Read Bekah McCallum’s report in WORLD Magazine on a documentary alleging lockdown protocols served as a modern form of religious persecution.

Christina Grube

Christina Grube is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.

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