An Aldergrove letter writer wants church congregations to receive equitable treatment compared to other groups. (CDC photo)

An Aldergrove letter writer wants church congregations to receive equitable treatment compared to other groups. (CDC photo)

LETTER: Langley man irked by treatment of churches during pandemic

User groups can gather in churches for exercise but worshippers must be outside, letter writer noted

Dear Editor,

Dr. Bonnie Henry has decided to allow religious groups to meet in groups of 50 persons – outside.

Imagine the resulting scenario: A congregation of 400 persons needs to have eight services to allow everyone to participate.

• READ MORE: B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Grandpa and Grandma and little Johnnie and Suzie can sit/stand in the cold spring breeze and rain. Meanwhile, under the same Public Health Order, it would be entirely lawful for multiple support groups of 50 persons and multiple exercise classes of up to 25 people to be meeting inside the church building.

How is it fair to exclude worshipers from their own facilities while allowing outside groups to freely use them?

• READ MORE: Judge dismisses Fraser Valley churches’ petition against COVID-19 rules

Dr. Bonnie’s office has admitted that only one-quarter of one per cent of COVID transmissions in B.C. can be linked to religious gatherings (and this definition of religious gatherings includes large-scale weddings and funerals). COVID transmissions associated with permitted activities in gyms, exercise studios, ski resorts, restaurants and pubs are much higher than those associated with religious gatherings.

Dr. Bonnie Henry and her team should immediately restore equity by granting churches the freedom to gather with at least 25 per cent of fixed percentage of building fire capacity and with a reasonable COVID safety plan in place.

As things are today, B.C. is the only jurisdiction in Canada (and likely in all of North America) which currently prohibits in-person corporate worship – which just happens to be a Charter-guaranteed right in our country.

Something is amiss and it needs to be made right.

Rob Schouten, Aldergrove

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CoronavirusLetter to the Editor