Most religious leaders support COVID-19 rules, though few cause ‘consternation’, says Dr Bonnie Henry

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The BC provincial health worker said that despite some noisy exceptions in the Fraser Valley, most religious leaders have strongly supported restrictions preventing in-person services during rising COVID-19 numbers.
On Monday, Dr Bonnie Henry announced that at least three churches in Langley and Chilliwack have held in-person services for the past two weeks, defying an ordinance banning all community and social gatherings.

“We know some high profile people are trying to create some consternation about this,” Henry said.

“Most people do the right thing. Most religious leaders have been so strong in helping their communities to do the right thing and carry on with their mission despite the challenges we face in a global pandemic. ”

Langley RCMP on Sunday fined Riverside Calvary Chapel $ 2,300 after worshipers refused to disperse.

Free Grace Baptist Church and Chilliwack Free Reform Church also continued to provide in-person services.

Chilliwack RCMP said Monday officers spoke with leaders from both churches but refused to comply with public health orders. Members of the gendarmerie say they are speaking with provincial health officials and crown attorneys to determine what action to take if congregations continue to gather.

But Henry said most religious leaders she spoke to understand the rules are about the responsibility of all British Columbians to their fellow citizens.

“Faith is not a building,” Henry said Monday. “It’s not about Sunday morning, but everyday. It is not a question of rights, it is a question of community. ”

Watch: Dr Bonnie Henry discusses threats of legal action over orders

British Columbia’s provincial health worker is pondering the balance between protecting people from the coronavirus and limiting their freedom. 1:38

Leaders of non-compliant churches in Chilliwack have alleged the restriction on gatherings violated their Charter rights, and there have been discussions about the possibility of legal action.

Henry said being prosecuted is part of his job.

“I will always be accused of doing too much or not enough. I do not think we are infringing on people’s rights in the Charter. It’s about taking action to protect people from this virus, ”she said.

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