By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
OTTAWA (Worthy News) - A Canadian Protestant pastor who became a symbol of the fight for religious freedom during the coronavirus pandemic remains in prison more than a month after being detained.
Authorities denied bail to Artur Pawlowski after jailing him for leading a prayer service at the “Freedom Convoy” of truckers protesting COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates, said his family and supporters.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, viewed by critics as increasingly authoritarian, had described the massive truckers' protests as a “fringe minority” holding “unacceptable views.”
However, Trudeau defended his support for rallies of the Black Lives Matter movement despite reports of violence, saying he “agreed with their goals.”
Pawlowski, also known as Pastor “Art,” views his trial as politically motivated and compares it to the communist era in Poland, where he grew up before immigrating to Canada.
He earlier made international news for multiple arrests after refusing to comply with COVID-19 mask mandates and denouncing the obligatory COVID-19 vaccines. A 2021 video of him standing up to Canadian police barging into his church during service was seen worldwide.
“It’s incredibly cruel what they are doing to my father,” said his son Nathan Pawlowski in published remarks.
Canadian law enforcement officials defended their crackdown on Pawlowski’s activities. During a February 19 bail hearing, the Canadian prosecutor said Pawlowski’s February 7 speech “incited” the truckers.
Similar allegations were made against former U.S. President Donald J. Trump about his speech that preceded the January 6 deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol. Trump recently expressed his support for the truckers' protests.
Crown prosecutor Steven Johnston claimed the pastor’s prayer service for truckers contributed to enormous economic harm to the local, provincial and national economy.” It also did “substantial community harm to ordinary Canadians,” he added.
Pawlowski was told to adjust his sermons to the Trudeau government’s thinking. When he was released in 2021 following his arrest, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Adam Germain said he was “on the wrong side of science.”
The judge ordered him to preach the government believes that masks and mandates are beneficial against COVID-19. Other protestors have also been detained in recent months amid an ongoing crackdown on opponents of COVID-19 restrictions.
Without a breakthrough, the pastor was to spend another day Wednesday in solitary confinement at the Calgary Remand Center, his son told reporters.
Yet, the destained pastor of the Cave of Adullam congregation in the city of Calgary in Canada’s Alberta province made clear he would not stop preaching against restrictions.
Pawlowski is also the founder and pastor of the evangelistic Street Church Ministries (SCM).
In response to his openly expressed views, the Canadian government no longer recognized SCM as a religious or charitable organization.
The ongoing legal battles prompted thousands to join prayer and crowdfunding campaigns as Pawlowski faces mounting legal costs and more challenges ahead.