During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Artur Pawlowski became a hero to many when a YouTube video showed him chasing away city inspectors at his church in Calgary. The city government mandated a 15% maximum capacity, even during the Easter weekend in April 2021, but he refused to let them enter.
“Out! Get out of this property immediately!” the pastor, who lived under Communism in his native Poland, yelled as six city officials faced him down. “Ouuut! Get out immediately! Gestapo is not allowed here! Ouuut!”
The local authorities were not done with the defiant pastor, however. In May, the very next month, the pastor and his brother David were arrested by the Calgary Police Service for holding an “illegal in-person gathering” that defied local health orders.
The church pastor also supported Canadian truckers, when they blocked roads and bridges to protest vaccine mandates. By then he had become a hero to many, and a government target, too, so Pawlowski was arrested five months ago after delivering a speech in Coutts that urged truckers to “be willing to sacrifice their lives” for freedom.
Last Friday, according to a story by the left-wing Canada Broadcasting Corporation story, the Alberta Court of Appeal dropped pandemic-related contempt of court convictions and also dropped steep fines against the pastor and his brother that dated back 13 months.
A conviction from the trucker protest is still on the books, leaving Pawlowski under house arrest, but he tells AFN the “foundation” is crumbling in a democratic country that witnessed its own government control their fellow citizens in the name of saving them from a virus.
“The house of cards is falling apart,” Pawlowski tells AFN. “So I'm looking optimistically into the future.”
A key issue that surfaced during Pawlowski’s court fight was his own freedom of speech. As a condition for probation, an Alberta judge ordered Pawlowski to literally parrot the “majority of medical experts” about the vaccine, mask-wearing, and social-distancing when he delivered any public remarks expressing his personal opinion. The judge, Adam Germain, even wrote a 99-word script for the pastor to follow -- as if the vocal, defiant pastor would back down at that point.
“This crooked judge wants to turn me into a CBC reporter or CNN reporter,” Pawlowski complained at the time to Fox News, “that every time that I am in public, every time I'm opening my mouth, I am to pray their mantra to the government.”
The appeals court decision last week also dropped the speech requirements, the CBC story says.
Sarah Miller, an attorney who represented both brothers, told the CBC the judge had ruled against them based on a personal disagreement and ignored any “proper legal analysis” about their rights.
Pawloski: 'With God you win'
In his interview with AFN, Pawlowski insists he is not bitter about his ordeal but, looking back, he praises God for putting him in an Alberta jail cell where he shared the Gospel with others.
“I led people in prison to the Lord,” he says. “They're still calling me from prison. To this day, I have contact with my boys from my unit.”
Pawlowski’s public fight generated debate in numerous churches, where some pastors and congregations may have praised his civil disobedience and mirrored it. Many other churches, however, possibly citing Paul's instructions to submit to authority, obediently turned off the lights and shut the doors until they were allowed to return.
After his arrest at the trucker protest, the pastor told Fox News that other defiant church pastors across Canada were exposing the "villains" and "tyrants" who would never stop otherwise. He likened that situation to his native Poland, where churches there rose up and fought the armed and wicked Communists. That demand for freedom during the 1980s is known as the Solidarity Movement.
"And I think that God wants this to be exposed," he said. "Those types of people never stop. They need to be exposed."
Pawlowski tells AFN he believes he preached a message of freedom above tyranny.
“I literally preached to tens of millions of people around the world with a simple message: with God you win,” he says. “When you join the army of the living God you've already won. The enemy just doesn't know it yet.”