A rebuttal to Licia Corbella’s column the Calgary Herald refused to run


John Carpay – Western Standard

Pastor Matheson and Ms. Corbella base their denunciation of truth-loving pastors on Romans 13:1: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

I hate to disagree with Calgary Herald columnist Licia Corbella because she is a personal friend, and someone whom I admire greatly for her intelligence, her excellent writing ability, and her integrity. But disagree I must with her May 12, 2021, column titled “Defiant Alberta pastors defame and blaspheme Jesus with their actions.”

In the spirit of honest dialogue and beneficial debate, I reached out to the editor of the Calgary Herald and offered to submit a reply, but my offer was declined.

In her column, Ms. Corbella asserts Christians are required to obey Jason Kenney’s lockdown orders because the Bible requires obedience to authority. Ergo, since health orders are passed by the state, disobeying them brings disrepute upon Jesus Christ. Ms. Corbella claims pastors James Coates and Art Pawlowski – both arrested and jailed for the “crime” of following their conscience by leading regular, normal church services – have engaged in “blasphemy” against Jesus.

To support this solemn denunciation of her fellow Christians, Ms. Corbella appeals to human authority: retired pastor Ray Matheson of First Alliance Church, whom Ms. Corbella regards as “the most Jesus-like person” she has ever known. Ms. Corbella seems to argue because she views Pastor Matheson as very Christ-like, then Jesus must also be pretty upset with pastors who exercise their God-given Charter freedoms in the face of arbitrary, unscientific and unconstitutional health orders.

Pastor Matheson is quoted as asserting: “If the authorities were asking us to deny our faith or to go against the principles of scripture, we would need to obey God rather than the government.”

Pastor James Coates would argue authorities ordered people to deny their faith and violate the principles of scriptures by imposing irrational and arbitrary restrictions on religious freedom and other human rights. Across Canada, many Christian pastors and other religious leaders have taken a principled stand against the government’s unscientific interference with religious worship. Some disobey quietly, others very publicly when confronted with the kind of authoritarianism that used to be confined to countries like China and Saudi Arabia, where Christians cannot gather or worship freely.

Many pastors assert prohibitions on gathering for worship are contrary to scripture, and based on government fearmongering rather than on science and facts. Since March 2020, governments across the globe have stoked public fear of a virus that has a 99.77% survival rate and which is harmless to 90% of the population. If you are under 70, you should be more scared of getting into a car than of the coronavirus. It is sad and also normal that in a country of 38 million people, more than 300,000 Canadians died in 2020, about 5% of them with COVID-19 (but not necessarily of COVID-19) and 95% from other causes. According to Statistics Canada, COVID-19 has not impacted the death rate in Canada in 2020, which is very much in line with death rates in 2019, 2018, 2017 and prior years. The government’s own data tells us COVID-19 is not an unusually deadly killer.

When Jason Kenney publicly compares the Wuhan Flu to the Spanish Flu of 1918  – which killed 50 million people, at a time when world population was barely one quarter of what it is today – he is misleading the public. When governments continue to violate human rights based on the inaccurate predictions of Dr. Neil Ferguson of Imperial College, who warned in March of 2020 that COVID-19 would be like the Spanish Flu, politicians are simply not being honest with the public.

Violating citizens’ Charter freedoms “for two weeks to flatten the curve” was an acceptable precautionary measure in March of 2020, when we did not know what we know today. Today, we know the removal of our human rights and Charter freedoms during a 15th month of lockdowns is not warranted by this virus, which has much more in common with the annual flu than it does with the Spanish Flu. Government-released data proves COVID-19 is nothing much to fear for about 90% of the population, and we should protect the vulnerable rather than harming everyone. This virus does not justify the destruction of our free and democratic society, or killing the economic prosperity that is needed to look after widows and orphans, and to care for other vulnerable citizens.

Apart from politicians continuing to mislead about COVID-19 by grossly exaggerating its actual danger, they have not put forward any credible evidence that might show lockdowns have saved lives. Politicians make this claim repeatedly at every news conference, but never back their claim with actual evidence. Even if there was credible evidence showing lockdowns saved lives, this doesn’t even begin to address how many people have been killed and harmed by lockdowns.

When given the opportunity to present medical and scientific evidence in two separate court challenges to lockdown measures, the Kenney government runs and hides, and fails to show the judge (or the public) what the scientific basis for lockdowns might be. The Alberta government’s behaviour in court tells you everything you need to know about how “scientific” and “evidence-based” lockdowns are.

The scriptures repeatedly state: “be not afraid” and “do not fear.” Many pastors would argue that disregarding the known facts about COVID-19 and lockdowns, and living in a permanent state of unwarranted fear, is to deny one’s faith and to go against the principles of scriptures, which are all about truth. Many pastors argue supporting lockdowns – which have inflicted so much harm and suffering on so many people – is contrary to the biblical command to love your neighbour, especially when politicians refuse to back up their “lockdowns save lives” claim with evidence.

Pastor Matheson and Corbella base their denunciation of truth-loving pastors on Romans 13:1: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

Context matters. The rest of Romans 13 goes on to describe a government that holds no terror “for those who do right” and that brings “punishment on the wrongdoer.” Pastors like James Coates would argue the governing authorities are appointed for the purpose of good. When authority is exercised for the purpose of good, Christians are to obey. Romans 13 provides no basis for blind obedience to unjust and destructive laws. As explained in greater detail in a column refuting the theology of Jason Kenney, the Bible is replete with examples of God approving of – and even commanding – disobedience to civil authorities.