By: Amy Jo Underwood
Canadian pastor Artur Pawlowski was arrested on Saturday for refusing to follow COVID-19 regulations in his church services in Alberta. The arrest follows a confrontation Pawlowski had with law enforcement when they attempted to stop a church gathering over lack of social distancing and mask-wearing. Pawlowski stated that the tactics used by government officials are reminiscent of the rise of Communism in his native Poland, and has encouraged pastors to stand up and protect their congregants’ right to worship.
Artur Pawlowski, pastor of a church in Alberta, Canada, went viral for his outburst against local police when they informed him that his church’s gathering was illegal due to breaking health regulations. Pawlowski informed the police that they were acting like Gestapo, and made other references to Nazi Germany, informing them that they were not allowed to be on the church premises and interfere with the freedom of worship.
“I grew up under a Communist dictatorship behind the Iron Curtain, under the boot of the Soviets, and I'm telling you that's no fun at all. It was a disaster," Pawlowski stated later. "So, it was like a flashback when those police officers showed up at my church. Everything kind of came back to life from my childhood. The only thing I could do is fend off the wolves as a shepherd, and I used my voice to get rid of them. They were illegally encroaching on our rights during the most holy days… I was a little bit shaken, but I did what every shepherd on earth should be doing, fend off the wolves.”
Pawlowski was arrested on Saturday for breaking regulations again through continuing to hold church services without restriction. Calgary police stated that "service organizer acknowledged the injunction, but chose to ignore requirements for social distancing, mask wearing and reduced capacity limits for attendees, and continued the event." His brother was arrested as well for his involvement in leading the church services. The Calgary police stated that, "As a result [of the Saturday service continuing], Artur Pawlowski and Dawid Pawlowski have both been arrested and charged with organizing an illegal in-person gathering, including requesting, inciting or inviting others to attend an illegal public gathering, promoting and attending an illegal public gathering.”
“You have to fight for your rights, they’ll never give them back to you voluntarily. ...Clergymen should unite and start pushing this darkness away. We should come and take to the streets and say ‘no more lockdowns, no more restrictions, we will not put up with this anymore. We are fighting back.” - Artur Pawlowski
“It is important to understand that law enforcement recognizes people’s desire to participate in faith-based gatherings as well as the right to protest. However, as we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic, we all must comply with public health orders in order to ensure everyone’s safety and wellbeing.” - Calgary police