Protesters outside the B.C. Supreme Court with signs demanding church services be allowed. Photo by Agnieszka Ruck

B.C. churches launch appeal on religious gathering ban

By  AGNIESZKA RUCK, Canadian Catholic News
  • April 14, 2021

VANCOUVER -- Three Christian churches are appealing a B.C. Supreme Court judge’s ruling in favour of the prohibition on in-person religious gatherings in this province.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, representing Riverside Calvary Chapel, Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church and Free Reformed Church and four individuals, filed a notice of appeal March 31. It said the “central issue” of religious services being singled out among other gatherings was not addressed and that the court did not require the government to show “specific and persuasive scientific evidence” that would justify the “violation of constitutional rights, especially against freedom of religion.”

“A declared public health crisis does not permit courts to neglect their constitutional obligation to ensure that government actions respect the Charter rights of citizens,” said JCCF staff lawyer Marty Moore.

It’s not known when the appeal could be heard.

Archbishop J. Michael Miller has filed a separate petition in B.C. Supreme Court on behalf of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, seeking an exemption to the ban on worship for Catholics, and an interim stay application seeking the same relief on a provisional basis prior to the hearing of the petition.

The archbishop’s petition has not gone before a judge.

Catholic lawyers connected to the archdiocese have called the worship ban “inconsistent” and “out of balance” with restrictions imposed on other gatherings.

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