British Columbia

Most faith leaders support COVID-19 rules, despite few causing 'consternation,' Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C.'s provincial health officer says that despite some noisy exceptions in the Fraser Valley, most faith leaders have strongly supported restrictions preventing in-person services during a spike in COVID-19 numbers.

'It's not about rights, it's about community,' provincial health officer says

A woman outside the Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack holds a sign that says "God is bigger than COVID." The church is one of a small number in the Fraser Valley that continue to hold in-person services. (Briar Stewart/CBC)

B.C.'s provincial health officer says that despite some noisy exceptions in the Fraser Valley, most faith leaders have strongly supported restrictions preventing in-person services during a spike in COVID-19 numbers.

On Monday, Dr. Bonnie Henry addressed the news that at least three churches in Langley and Chilliwack have held in-person services over the last two weeks, defying an order prohibiting all community and social gatherings.

"We know there are some high-profile people who are trying to create some consternation around this," Henry said.

"Most people are doing the right thing. Most faith leaders have been so strong in supporting their communities to do the right thing and to carry on their mission despite having these challenges that we're dealing with in a global pandemic."

On Sunday, Langley RCMP fined the Riverside Calvary Chapel $2,300 after congregants refused to disperse.

The Free Grace Baptist Church and Free Reformed Church in Chilliwack have also continued to hold in-person services.

Chilliwack RCMP said Monday that officers have spoken with leaders at both churches, but they are refusing to comply with public health orders. Mounties say they are speaking with provincial health officials and Crown counsel to determine what action to take if the congregations continue to gather.

But Henry said most faith leaders she has spoken with understand the rules are about every British Columbian's responsibility to their fellow citizens.

"Faith is not a building," Henry said Monday. "It is not about Sunday mornings, it is about every day. It's not about rights, it's about community."

Watch: Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses threats of legal action over orders

'I will always be accused of doing too much or not enough,' says Dr. Bonnie Henry

1 year ago
Duration 1:38
B.C.'s provincial health officer reflects on the balancing act between protecting people from coronavirus and limiting their freedom. 1:38

Leaders of the non-compliant churches in Chilliwack have alleged that the restriction on gatherings is a violation of their Charter rights, and there has been some chatter about the potential for legal action.

Henry said it's part of her job to be the subject of lawsuits.

"I will always be accused of doing too much or not enough. I do not believe that we are infringing people's Charter rights. This is about taking measures to protect people from this virus," she said.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now