A Canadian pastor who has repeatedly clashed with the local government officials over worship restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic is alleging that arsonists have targeted his home and set his garage ablaze.
Appearing on Rebel Media Sunday, Pastor Artur Pawlowski of Street Church in Calgary, Alberta, recalled how the garage at his private residence was set on fire late Saturday night.
“About 11:30 p.m., my wife, she hears some commotions and firefighters, I mean, so many cars and police. And first, we thought … maybe they’re coming for me in the middle of the night. But no, they came to put the fire down.”
After heading outside and initially believing that their neighbors’ house was on fire, the Pawlowskis figured out that it was their garage that was on fire. Pawlowski posted video footage of firefighters working to extinguish the fire on his YouTube channel.
“Someone set our property on fire. Someone wants us dead,” he said. “And I’m thinking, 'Why? I’m feeding the poor. I’m feeding Muslims. I’m feeding homosexuals. I’m feeding whites and Asians and blacks. I’m feeding people and I’m not hurting anyone, and they want me dead, and they want my children dead?'”
Describing the fire as “shocking,” Pawlowski maintained that he "would never imagine that we would be living in a country that … our right to be different, our rights … to be able to express ourselves in a different way than others would be punishable by death.”
A spokesperson for the Calgary Fire Department confirmed to The Christian Post that the fire department "attended the fire in question" but a cause has not yet been determined.
"The origin of the fire was an area on or adjacent to an external wall of the detached garage," the department said in a statement. "The cause of the fire is at present undetermined.”
As Rebel News’ Adam Soos noted, Pawlowski has faced additional harassment since his encounters with local law enforcement have gone viral, including “graffiti and dog feces and nails in the parking lot.”
The pastor, born in Poland, told Rebel News that he shared his belief with Calgary Police that the fire in his garage constituted a hate crime, but “they didn’t say anything.” According to Pawlowski, “I don’t know … where this is going to go with them.”
While Pawlowski has had tense exchanges with members of the Calgary Police and other local law enforcement officials in recent weeks, he praised the police for acting “very professionally." He added: “They helped as much as they could. They even came with their trucks to bring the light so we could secure the place.”
He also thanked the firefighters for doing an “amazing job,” contending that “if not for those men that fought the fire, my house would go down in flames.”
Pawlowski explained that the exact origin of the fire remains a mystery but concluded that “someone put fire into a blue bin that was with cupboards and that’s how the fire started.”
He stated that “they pushed the bin to the door — the wooden door of the garage — and the whole garage started to … burn.”
“They don’t know who did it, of course. They don’t know what caused [the fire]," the pastor added.
Pawlowski suggested that it could have been a lighter or “someone holding the lighter and putting the bin on fire.” He remarked that “only God knows at this moment” how the fire started.
He characterized the fire as “another sad day for democracy” and “another sad day for humanity.”
Pawlowski acknowledged the right to “agree to disagree” while lamenting that people want him and his children dead “all in the name of tolerance.”
The fire at Pawlowski’s garage came a week after video footage documented the arrest of Pawlowski and his brother, Dawid, by Calgary Police for holding an “illegal” in-person worship service that did not comply with social distancing and mask requirements implemented to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Multiple officers carried the brothers away into custody as they knelt in the road, refusing to walk on their own after being handcuffed.
Following their release Monday night, Pawlowski compared the actions of the local government to communist China.
“I just woke up in Hong Kong a few days ago,” he asserted. “I mean, I thought I emigrated to our beloved Canada, but I am in Hong Kong, full force.”
Before his arrest, Pawlowski had two tense exchanges with local law enforcement, who confronted him at his church for failing to abide by coronavirus restrictions. As a public health officer, accompanied by local police, interrupted a Passover mass, the pastor sternly directed them to “get out” and compared them to the “Gestapo,” the Nazi police. The video of that encounter has received millions of views.
Three weeks later, Pawlowski received another visit from local authorities seeking to enforce coronavirus restrictions.
While they did not enter the church, Pawlowski accused the officials of entering his “personal space” and called them “brown shirts” and “Nazi Gestapo communist fascists.” After they left the property, the pastor alleged that the repeated targeting of churches was part of a broader “agenda” of “medical tyranny” that runs afoul of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Pawlowski is among other Canadian pastors arrested for holding in-person worship services that do not conform to coronavirus restrictions. Pastors James Coates and Tim Stephens, also of Calgary, have also suffered legal consequences for holding in-person worship services.