Pastor Tim Stephens of the Fairview Baptist Church in Calgary has been arrested for the second time for allegedly holding worship services that defy the Alberta Health Service’s (AHS) public health orders.
The Calgary Police Service (CPS) arrested Stephens at his home on Monday, a day after he held an outdoor church service for his congregation, according to a news release from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, the non-profit legal organization that’s representing Stephens in court.
Fairview Baptist congregants were worshiping outdoors for the second Sunday in a row after the AHS physically closed down the church building on June 5.
According to the Justice Centre, Stephens has been charged with an offence of alleging failure or refusal to comply with a court order, under s.127 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
He’s currently being held at the Calgary Remand Centre as he awaits his next court hearing, which is slated for June 28.
Stephens was last arrested on May 16 on a court order issued by Associate Chief Justice John Rooke of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench. On May 6, the Justice Centre successfully obtained changes to the court order, making it apply only to the Whistle Stop Café in Mirror, Alberta, the café owned Christopher Scoot, and other affiliated individuals.
This means that the amended court order, effective on May 13, did not apply to Stephens, and cannot be used to justify the two arrests on May 16 and June 14, the Justice Centre stated.
“The May 13 court order does not apply to the public broadly and it is our position that AHS is engaged in an intentional act of public deception and abuse of authority in arresting Pastor Stephens and others,” said the centre’s litigation director Jay Cameron.
“Locking out Fairview Baptist congregants and arresting Pastor Tim Stephens has everything to do with punishing dissent, and nothing to do with public safety,” Cameron said.
Stephens has been given several tickets for allegedly violating Alberta Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s public health orders. The Justice Centre said that it’s preparing to argue that the tickets should be throw out and the unlawful arrest of Stephens on May 16 is a violation of his Charter rights.