Canadian Christian pastor flees to Kenya to escape liberal persecution
Reverend Harold Ristau, a decorated veteran and seminary professor, saw no other alternative but to flee to Kenya after his government threatened with the removal of his security clearance and government confiscation of his life’s savings.
Reverend Ristau participated in the trucker convoy against COVID-19 lockdowns last February, where he prayed and sang the national anthem. The Canadian government took serious actions against protesters, treating dissent as terrorism. The Reverend is party to a lawsuit, stating that the government’s response has violated Canadians’ fundamental rights.
Following a peaceful assembly to petition his government, Ristau was threatened with the removal of his security clearance and confiscation of his retirement reserves, his children’ college funds, and other life savings. He also experienced serious damage to his reputation, career, and friendships after the government used anti-terrorism measures .
Elise Ristau, his wife gave an interview from Kenya, saying “There’s no protection, if a pandemic started tomorrow, from future mandates. So that’s why I was really open to coming here”.
She explained that in addition to dealing with tyrannical health restrictions, their children were mocked at school for their family’s religious and political views. After suffering severe social and government repression for two years, they moved outside Nairobi with their five children last August.
“I don’t know that I can go back and be a Christian in Canada. So that’s why we’re here in Kenya” the Reverend said. As a former chaplain with a Ph.D. in philosophy, he trains Kenyan pastors at the Lutheran School of Theology.
According to Marty Moore, a lawyer for the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), which is litigating Ristau’s case “The fight is far from over”. Another convoy leader was arrested this May and Mr Moore believes litigation will likely continue for several more years. The same thing happens in other Western countries, as well.
“Government use of ‘debanking’ to punish dissent is growing in the West. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government used it on essentially every convoy participant authorities could identify. As soon as they knew your name if you were on the ground protesting in Ottawa, they froze your bank account” Mr Moore continued.
“The federal government met with the banks, they gave the protesters’ names to the banks, and the banks were then pushed to freeze the bank accounts of anyone with that name in their banks. It was a fascist collaboration”.
During the lockdowns the Canadian government kept gyms, restaurants, and liquor stores open but closed all the churches. Left-wing protesters could sing without masks, whilst all provinces banned Christians from singing in church for years.
John Sikkema, a lawyer at the non-profit firm ARPA Canada, said “So far, none of the legal challenges to worship restrictions on church services have succeeded. Culturally, people find going to the gym very important and less so going to church. That’s not really a health decision, it’s a political decision about what’s important to the health of your society. Police regularly showed up at churches on Sunday mornings and fined pastors whose parking lots had too many cars.”
Apparently, Canadian Christians are often required to lie or betray their faith to access government grants and licensing credentials, and avoid punishment for their faith. Canadian doctors, lawyers, and teachers are required to endorse abortion, LGBT sexual acts and assisted suicide. ARPA Canada and JCCF litigated a number of those cases and were often able to get pastors’ fines negotiated down to charitable donations.
The Reverend’s decision to move was also affected by the difficulty of raising their children in a rapidly tergiversate Western culture.
Elise Ristau continued “Things are normal here, people have traditional values. It’s inconceivable to think of transgender mutilation. As a mother and father, we do our very best to keep our kids Christian”.