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Religion vs. State Day 2: should churches in B.C. really be closed?

Should churches really be closed in BC?

On Tuesday, I went back to the Vancouver courts to report on the second day of a Supreme Court of British Columbia hearing, where Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson is set to rule on a legal challenge that was filed by the the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. The JCCF is challenging the B.C. government’s restrictions against peaceful protests and in-person worship services.

On day one of the hearing, there were many pastors and protesters outside of the courthouse, speaking out about why in desperate times like these, churches desperately need to be open. Zoom services just don’t cut it for everyone.

This got me wondering, what does the average Vancouverite feel about Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s decision to ban in-person worship services, while keeping nearly everything else open, including pubs like St. James Well, which was recently linked to over 300 COVID-19 cases? Also, do they believe people should be able to exercise their right to peacefully protest during life with COVID-19? And if they do agree with most of the COVID-19 restrictions placed on the people, exactly how long do they believe society should have to follow such restrictions?

So many questions, and day two of this hearing was the perfect place to ask them, across the street from the courthouse. Passerby couldn’t help but look in the direction of the courthouse, as there were two types of demonstrations occurring outside of it. While one was there to gather for an outdoor church service in protest for freedom of religion, the two groups shared a common cause over the right to protest. That’s because the second group was gathering in protest while inside, Stacy Gallagher, an Indigenous opponent of the Trans Mountain pipeline, was sentenced to 90 days in prison after being convicted of criminal contempt for her mobilization against the pipeline.

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