Trinity Bible Chapel doors now locked following temporary injunction issued by judge
KITCHENER -- The doors to Trinity Bible Chapel have been locked for the weekend after a judge granted a temporary injunction.
The Attorney General's office asked for an order to have local law enforcement lock the doors on the property on Friday afternoon.
"Trinity is playing games with the court," said Richard Ogden, who was representing the Attorney General's office, in his closing arguments ahead of the judge's decision.
Part of the Attorney General's office's arguments included 75 pages of historical legal interactions that individually mentioned each church elder, including the pastor.
The factum repeatedly referred to the most recent Sunday services in April.
"The officers observed on their arrival that several recreational vehicles were parked adjacent to the rear entrance of the church, which had the effect of completely obstructing the view of the rear entrance," the factum reads in part.
Despite the visual obstructions on Apr. 25, "municipal law enforcement officers and Waterloo police service officers observed approximately 102 vehicles enter the church parking lot. They further observed 17 individuals head toward the church, and at least 27 vehicles empty during the service. For the 11 a.m. service, the officers observed 106 new vehicles enter the church parking lot and over 50 vehicles appear empty during the service."
"Honestly I find this a sad situation for this church and for this country about locking doors because people want to worship in person," Trinity Bible Chapel's lawyer Lisa Bildy said in her closing statements. “They don’t want to disrespect you and the orders of the court. But they are deeply convicted people.”
Pastor Jacob Reaume declined an interview with CTV News, but instead took to his blog to issue a response.
"We are willing to pay any price necessary to worship our saviour," the blog reads in part. "We've now received so many dozens of charges I've actually lost track.
"Combined, we are facing over $40 million in fines with jail time. That's not enough, so they've taken our building."
CTV News has not been able to independently verify this amount.
The injunction is only for this Sunday.
"The risk of irreparable harm would be too great to ignore," Justice John Krawchenko said in his findings.
He added the injunction wouldn't stop or inhibit worship, since the church could still have virtual services.
"The only way to ensure compliance is to lock the doors to the building, but not to their ministry," he said.
Cara Zwibel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association says the ruling to lock the doors is rare.
"Freedom of religion as interpreted by the courts is a concept that really focuses on what the individual subjective and sincerely held beliefs are," she said. "If I am someone who sincerely believes that practising my religion requires me to be in a congregation with a group of worshipers, than generally the court will take me at my word."
While the association is not connecto the case, they highlight that freedom of religion is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"The fact that this is something that's constitutionally protected does make it a little different than some of the other things that we might see in terms of resistance to lockdowns," Zwibel added.
A request to lock the doors earlier this month was denied.
Police ticketed people leaving the church service last Sunday.
Regional officials reported Friday that nine tickets were issued to churchgoers for attending a gathering over the legal limit. They also reported seven court summonses, one for the church itself and six to church elders.
Under the stay-at-home order, religious gatherings are capped at 10 people indoors and outdoors.
With reporting from CTV Kitchener's Nicole Lampa and Krista Sharpe