Does COVID change the structure of our society? Does it change the relationship between the home and the state or the relationship between the church and the state? Does the state serve the people or do the people serve the state? Does the health care system serve the people or do the people serve the health care system? Do we get locked into our homes for months on end to save the health care system because it may be overwhelmed?
To Premier Jason Kenney and the UCP Party,
Thank you for working for the good of Alberta. Mr. Premier, I and many others in my circles supported you, helped you create the United Conservative Party, and then become our Premier.
I watched your victory speech on election night. You ended your victory speech in this way:
“Alberta is an idea. An idea of a society that believes deeply in the dignity of the human person, and in a great tradition of ordered liberty.
The idea that strong families, communities and resilient individuals are more effective at achieving human flourishing than a big, impersonal bureaucratic state….
A community that values freedom: free expression, free inquiry, freedom of conscience, and freedom from intrusions by the state into our lives. We know that liberty is essential to human flourishing, and is what gives meaning to our choices. We also know that freedom requires us to govern ourselves, and to care for our neighbours.”
As of this writing, our church is ordered closed and I’m the third pastor in Alberta to be jailed under your government. What was my crime? Exercising my God-given and fundamental freedoms of religion, assembly, and conscience by gathering together with other Christians as a church. We must do this in obedience to the commands of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I know your decisions have been difficult to make. But please know that your decisions have been difficult for us to bear. The people of Alberta are the ones who have borne the consequence of your decisions. Sir, never have the people of this province been subjected to such rule by the state. Never have we gone for months with government intrusions in our homes, workplaces, weddings, funerals, churches, businesses, and schools. Those who bear the consequences should be those who are making the decisions. Responsibility and freedom go hand in hand. You have taken both from us.
Mr. Premier and members of the legislature, I know you love our province very much. But nobody loves my family more than I do. No one is better equipped to make choices for my family than I am. You are not in a position to micromanage my household and tell us who can come in or who we can visit.
You also can’t possibly love the people in my church more than I do. Sir, these are the people that I visit when a baby is born. These are the people that I bury when they die and comfort their grieving loved ones. These are the people that I’ve given myself to care, teach, lead, and equip. I know them all by name and I know their lives, their families, and we live together as a family of faith. Are we not best suited to care for each other in this time of crisis rather than an impersonal bureaucratic state?
Does COVID change the structure of our society? Does it change the relationship between the home and the state or the relationship between the church and the state? Does the state serve the people or do the people serve the state? Does the health care system serve the people or do the people serve the health care system? Do we get locked into our homes for months on end to save the health care system because it may be overwhelmed? Is not $21 billion dollars a year enough of a burden for taxpayers to pay in an effort to support the healthcare system?
Haven of Refuge
Our church has been labeled a public nuisance for having so-called “super-spreader” events. Sir, in a year of gathering during this pandemic, we’ve seen zero transmission in our church! No COVID cases have been linked to our gatherings. We have done no harm. Not one hospitalization or ICU case can be attributed to our gatherings. What we’ve seen is a much greater harm being committed by your government! We minister to those hurting and vulnerable, those most negatively affected by your policies. Our church is a centre of worship that leads to the prevention of depression, despair, drug abuse, and even suicide. Most importantly, it is a community of joy in Christ, and salt and light to the world during this time of trial.
I hope the May 6th court injunction will be the last straw to wake up your government to its increasing tyranny. Apparently the injunction applies to anyone in Alberta who would resist your dictates by putting them in jail. I was publicly torn away from my wife and children and placed in a maximum security remand center. This, sir, is a great injustice, an ugly abuse of power, and an egregious violation of my charter rights.
The Self-Sacrificing Higher Authority
Let me remind you that I, and other Christians, are doing this out of conviction and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing that we may suffer compares to what he suffered for us.
The church is not a building, it is a gathering or assembly of believers with Jesus Christ as its head. Human government can attempt to force compliance in defiance to the commands of Christ, but the kingdom of Christ will outlast and overcome all human jurisdictions. Christians serve a higher law and a higher authority.
Jesus commands all people to repent and believe him, taking him at this word. He is the only way to peace with God. He died for sinners like you and me so that we might be reconciled to God and have eternal life. I pray that he would lead you, and that you would take up his word which is able to lead you to salvation, wisdom, and courage.
I appeal to you in your capacity as the leader of this province to change course and honor God and the freedom he has granted to his church and all men. May God grant you grace and mercy to understand truth in this age of confusion.
Fairview Baptist Church, Calgary