Judge to decide if Edmonton-area pastor accused of violating public health orders will receive bail

A judge is to decide Friday whether to release an Alberta pastor from jail, after his lawyer argued he should be free to lead worshippers until his trial.

James Coates with GraceLife Church, west of Edmonton, has been in jail for over two weeks and is appealing his bail conditions.

Read more: GraceLife Church pastor should be allowed to lead services until his trial: lawyer

Coates is charged with violating Alberta’s Public Health Act and with breaking a promise to abide by conditions of his bail release, which is a Criminal Code offence.

His lawyer, James Kitchen, told court Thursday that Coates can’t follow a bail condition that forbids him from holding services, because that would violate his conscience by disobeying God.

A prosecutor argued that the pastor’s release is a danger to the public.

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Read more: How Canadian Charter rights are playing into Alberta pastor’s fight against COVID-19 charges

The church has been holding services that officials say break public-health orders on attendance, masking and distancing.

The church has continued to hold services, even though Coates is in custody.

He is to stand trial in May.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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