Freedom of religion is officially dead in Canada?

In British Columbia, it feels like March again. With last week’s announcement of the closest thing to a lockdown since the pandemic began, there is a palpable sense that unless we band together by staying apart, the second wave of COVID-19 will pale in comparison to the first.

Various COVID-19 statistics justify many of the new restrictions. Mandating masks, suspending community events and prohibiting certain fitness activities strike a logical chord. Banning social gatherings outside of our households resonates with what we have been told for some time: These gatherings are a primary cause of the recent spikes and surges in the figures.

But one new restriction stands out as lacking justification. With some exceptions, in-person religious gatherings have been suspended — even though this form of activity has not been cited by health authorities in recent weeks and months as a particular cause for concern.

It is difficult to understand why physically distant and numerically limited worship is now banned while sports, shopping, and dining continue. How religious gatherings could be more problematic than these activities defies common sense and demands an explanation.

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