Transcript of the RebelNews interview with Pastor Coates:
[1:21] Sheila Gunn Reid for Rebel News, and I’m here at the site of GraceLife Church, west of Edmonton, Alberta. This is the church where the man beside me, Pastor James Coates, turned himself in to provincial authorities on February 16 to serve 35 days in a maximum security facility for not complying with the public health order on places of worship that would have forced you to turn away 85% of your congregation, forced them to distance from each other and wear masks and not even sing. Not even sing. And today at dawn, the church itself behind me here was fenced off–we’re standing just off the church property, because not only is the church fenced off, but congregants and supporters are not even allowed on the grass here. There’s two layers of fencing, and a black–I called it a sarcophagus, but really it is a mask; they’ve put the church in a mask because the congregation wouldn’t wear one. Pastor James, tell me, what’s your reaction to seeing the church this way? It’s very jarring.
[2:32] A: Well I think the government is trying to go toe to toe with the Lord of Glory in this moment, and the church is not a building, the church is the people of God who come together and worship the Lord Jesus Christ, and so, while it’s unfortunate that we don’t have access to our facility, that in no way impedes or obstructs the work of the gospel, the building up of the body of Christ, and so I see this as a wonderful opportunity for the Lord to put His glory on display.
[3:05] Q: You told me something similar when I spoke to you after you came out of jail–you took the opportunity of jail to minister to the other inmates and for you to see this as an opportunity to–what you’re doing now, tell people about the Word of God.
[3:23] A: The gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ, that we can be reconciled to God through His Son, who went to the cross and died and bled and suffered under the wrath of God and rose from the grave on the third day. And so what an opportunity to make that message known, and so we are so thankful for that opportunity and the platform that the Lord has given to us, and we want to be faithful in that endeavor.
[3:47] Q: Now I spoke to your lawyer, James Kitchen from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, this morning, and he said that he didn’t know that they were going to do this today. Sounds like they are enforcing the January closure of your church. But I think everybody was sort of blindsided by this?
[4:06] A: Well I think what you have is an embarrassed government, the government is embarrassed at this point in time, and the statistics and severity of Covid-19 are coming out so clear that the lockdown measures are not necessary–the people of Alberta are coming to realize that that’s the case, and we are a black eye on our government, because we can either meet–we have met for 37 Sundays in a row without a single Covid case, let alone a breakout–and so we are exposing the reality that these lockdown measures are not just unjust, they’re harmful and unnecessary. And so I think the closing of our facility is necessary in order to prevent any further embarrassment to Alberta Health Services, as well as to Jason Kenney.
[4:53] Q: Now how did you find out that your church was being seized?–that’s what happened here, the church property has been seized from the rightful owners, and that’s the people of GraceLife Church.
[5:06] A: I found out through a text as our administrative gentleman reached out to us and let us know that our building was being locked up; and at that point in time I had, uh, excitement in my heart. I mean, they are going toe to toe with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and in general that does not go well. It certainly doesn’t go well in the end, and it has the potential to not go very well even now; and so even when that news arrived, it was just another development in the saga of this staredown between GraceLife Church and AHS. And Jesus Christ is Lord, and we are going to follow Him all the way, to whatever means necessary.
[5:54] Q: Now this really has become an international story I know, even just for myself, because I’m the only reporter that you’ve allowed on the property here, and I’m so grateful for that; but it’s constant international interest, particularly the Americans, who, uh, take religious freedom very seriously; and yet here in Alberta Jason Kenney, our premier, doesn’t really seem to want to acknowledge what’s happening here.
[6:20] A: Well Jason Kenney is an incredible disappointment to this province; and I would say democracy at this point in time is dying, because he is not governing in accord with the mind of the people. It is abundantly apparent that Albertans want to go back to life as usual, and the excuse that it’s a health issue that is preventing us from doing that is just that, an excuse. There clearly is some underlying agenda that is shaping the governance of Jason Kenney, and it’s to the detriment of the people of this province. And I would just say to the people of Alberta, the only way you’re going to get your province back is if you take it back. It is time now to, not in any kind of violent manner, but to peacefully return to your life. I was at Costco on Monday and it was packed. No social distancing. The only thing that was there was the masks. And all that Costco folks need to do is take off the masks. All we need to do is go back to life as normal. If everyone goes back to life as normal and the mask comes off, the pandemic goes away. The premium outlet mall–packed on Monday as well. People are not afraid. And so we just need to live our lives and do so peacefully, and return to life as usual, and this pandemic goes away. We are ultimately in control–but if you are waiting for the government to hand you back your civil liberties it’s just not gonna happen.
[7:46] Q: Now, what can people do to support you? Because I think people want to help you, they just don’t know what to do.
[7:54] A: Well I think pressure needs to be placed on MLAs [Members of the Legislative Assembly]–I think the people need to let their MLAs know what they think about what’s happening here; we need to put pressure on the Premier; we need to just return to our normal lives. I think businesses need to consider opening; I think obviously churches and pastors need to open their churches; it’s time to go back to life as normal. And at the end of the day, Covid-19 is a reality, and yeah, you could lose your life to Covid-19–you have to assess whether or not you want to live this life in a lockdown type society where your civil liberties are removed from you, or whether you’re willing to go back to freedom at the risk of the possibility of contracting the virus and losing life–and you know, that’s where the gospel of Christ comes into play, because if you are in Christ you are not afraid of death; He conquered the grave, and if you would turn from your sin and believe on Him you wouldn’t have the fear of death, and you’d be able to live your life to the glory of God, and, and even if you should die you would have everlasting life with Him in heaven. So I would just say this is a wonderful time to understand reality as it really is, Jesus is Lord, and you confess Him as Lord; believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, and you will be saved.
[9:14] Q: Pastor Coates, a last word to you, do you have a message for the politicians out there who are continuing these crackdowns on churches–I think churches are the most brutal victims of the lockdown here in Alberta, just only slightly ahead of small businesses. Do you have a message for the politicians who have somehow asked for Albertans to give them over an entire year of their lives, only for us to be right back at the beginning?
[9:46] A: Yeah, I would just say come clean. Either you are deceived or you are deceiving the people. There’s no way that what’s happening right now is in accord with truth. There are so many doctors and experts that have come out and challenged the science and medicine that is being propagated by AHS and our government officials that it is now to the point that you are not responding to the information that is available to us the people, and so either you are deceived or you are deceiving the people–at this point in time it’s time to come clean. Time to wake up. For those who are in the government, that understand the world as we see it, they need to wake up, they need to speak out, it is time to return to the civil liberties that are ours in this nation, and right now our nation and province is being fundamentally altered to the point that I don’t think it’s ever going to look the same unless we the people, along with the politicians that are on board, step up and rise to the occasion.
[10:48] Q: Pastor Coates, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to do not just this interview, but the other interviews that you’ve done with me. And I want to thank you for taking the time to pray with me before we started this interview. And I know people around the world are just praying and praying for GraceLife, and they don’t know what they can do, but maybe prayer is it.
[11:10] A: Well Sheila thank you for just giving us an outlet to be able to deliver this message and know that we’re not going to be sliced and diced as we would be in the mainstream media. And I would just say at this point in time, mainstream media is essentially and effectively state-run media, and that is why we don’t give them our time, because we know we’re not going to get a fair hearing, and it’s just not worth it to give them our message.
[11:37] Q: Well I appreciate your trust. From here at GraceLife Church on the day the church was seized by the province and locked away from the congregants and Pastor James here. I’m Sheila Gunn Reid.