ROME — Celebrated Evangelical pastor Franklin Graham has defended Polish-Canadian pastor Artur Pawlowski, on trial for defying Coronavirus lockdowns to attend to the spiritual needs of the faithful.
Calgary police arrested Pawlowski and his brother in 2021 for the crime of holding in-person Christian church services, contrary to the lockdown regulations in place in the province of Alberta. The pastor later ministered to truckers at the border blockade, which earned him another arrest and 51 days in prison.
After multiple court appearances, Pawlowski was ordered by a federal judge in October 2021 to recite a script parroting Canadian health “experts” and publicly denouncing his own opinions on the coronavirus and vaccines.
“I said, ‘I will not obey this court order,’” Pawlowski said at the time. “I refuse to obey a crooked judge’s order. He’s not a judge, he’s a political activist.”
According to Rev. Graham, Pastor Pawlowski “has been attacked by the Canadian government because he dared to have a church service for the truckers at the border blockade (and earlier for his parishioners). He’s been fined and jailed.”
“I can’t help but like this guy!” Graham wrote. “He’s got guts to stand up for his rights! And I love those truckers too.”
Graham asked his 10 million Facebook followers to pray that “the judges and those in power see that this man has been unjustly penalized” while also asking assurance of their prayers in the comment section.
In April 2021, a video of Pawlowski went viral across social media, showing him ousting police from his church after officers interrupted an Easter service and denouncing them as “Gestapo Nazi communist fascists.”
In retaliation, Calgary authorities arrested Pawlowski and shuttered his church days later.
In July 2022, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) described Pawlowski’s crimes as having presided over “large, maskless gatherings for church events in Calgary throughout the pandemic.”
Pawlowski’s trial began on February 2 in Lethbridge, Alberta, which the pastor called “the final culmination of over 40 tickets for the COVID tyranny, the house arrest, the prison, all of that stuff.”
The pastor, who also heads a charity to feed Calgary’s homeless, will argue that the charges against him constitute an attempt to criminalize his speech.
He faces up to ten years in prison if convicted on the charges related to his participation in the trucker convoy in Coutts, Alberta.