EXCLUSIVE: A pastor from Manitoba, Canada, who was arrested earlier this week, told Fox News he spent an extra night in jail after refusing a condition of release that effectively required him to stop preaching during his church services.
Pastor Tobias Tissen of Steinbach, Man., Was jailed for two days after being arrested on a warrant issued in May related to a provincial public health order banning outdoor gatherings of more than five people.
Tissen told Fox News that his bail hearing, originally scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed after refusing the original terms of his release.
“They had these conditions that I was not allowed to attend gatherings that contravened COVID-19,” Tissen said. “And that would automatically prevent me from going to church and preaching. And I couldn’t agree with that.”
Tissen had been in hiding for months before his arrest on Monday.
The Restoration of the Church of God and its congregation of less than 200 made the headlines several times during the pandemic for clashing with authorities over religious gatherings. Tissen and the church have racked up tens of thousands of fines. In November 2020, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) blocked the church parking lot to prevent parishioners from attending a drive-thru.
Tissen, whose family left Germany to escape his ban on homeschooling, said he didn’t think about his tenure when he and his family went to spend time together in a park in Steinbach before that his mother did not move to Austria the next morning.
Tissen assumed someone saw him in the park and reported him to the police, who arrested him on his way home and informed him that he was under arrest.
According to the video of the incident, Tissen explained to RCMP officers that he would like to kiss his mother goodbye because she is leaving the country. When the officer tells Tissen that he’ll let him kiss his mother if he gets in the car, he agrees.
The officer then quickly closes the door, letting Tissen’s mother kiss him goodbye through the glass.
The RCMP did not comment on how Tissen was treated upon his arrest, noting only that he was arrested “without incident”.
While in detention at police headquarters in Steinbach, church members walked around the building singing hymns. Later that night, Tissen was driven 45 minutes north to Winnipeg, where he was eventually jailed in the Winnipeg Remand Center.
“We cannot comply”
Since the pandemic, other churches across Canada have faced imprisoned pastors, locked facilities, high fines and continued government intrusion.
Tissen Church was one of seven rural congregations that sued Manitoba for foreclosure orders, which a judge said did not violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Tissen believes that the Canadian authorities are “absolutely” targeting the clergy, which he says “shows that it is so clear that this is a fight between good and evil, and that they are targeting leading public figures who fight against evil “.
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Reflecting on his time in detention, Tissen said, “After being in prison for 45 hours, you have a lot of time to think. You have no notion of time. There is no clock in the cell. And the days drag on. really, really slow. “
Tissen said he spent much of his time in prayer, during which he became convinced that he had to defend religious freedom by refusing any conditions that would prevent him from preaching or going to church.
He considers it “miraculous” that the conditions of his release have been changed. The terms he agreed to prohibit him from organizing or inciting others to gatherings to protest the COVID-19 prevention orders, but he is allowed to hold a regular religious gathering and perform his pastoral duties .
He has a court date set for November 4.
“In Ephesians it says that we struggle against spiritual wickedness in high places, principalities and powers,” Tissen said. “That’s what we see now. And they’re after all of us who give God what belongs to God and Caesar what belongs to Caesar. But now Caesar wants what belongs to God.
“And as Christians, we just can’t. We can’t comply with that,” he added.
“Not just churches anymore”
Videos of Tissen’s arrest and release were posted on the social media accounts of Pastor Henry Hildebrandt, pastor of the Church of God in Aylmer, Ont.
A sister congregation to the Tissen church, the Church of God in Aylmer also faced continued interference from government officials, who closed their premises in May on the orders of a judge who called the church ” melting pot of contemptuous activities ”.
The court continued to fine them hundreds of thousands of dollars when they gathered outside.
Echoing Tissen, Hildebrandt told Fox News: “I think they’re trying to make a strong case here, saying, ‘We don’t want churches to think they’re above government.’ “
“What gives me hope is that it is no longer the clergy, it is no longer just the churches,” said Hildebrandt, who noted that the government was now targeting prime workers. line they once claimed to hold in high regard.
Earlier this month, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau implemented one of the most stringent COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the world. By October 30, employees in all federally regulated industries must be vaccinated or risk being made redundant. Anyone over 12 who wants to travel by plane, train or boat should also be vaccinated.
“They are now stabbing them in the back left and right, whether TSA workers, police, firefighters, medics or nurses,” Hildebrandt said.
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“It gives me a lot of hope that it affects the general public much more than it has so far. And the people who might have strongly defended the government, thinking they were their friends, now clearly recognize that this is not the case. “