By JOHN FORTMEYER, CNNW publisher
SALEM — A Canadian pastor, who has drawn huge attention for his passionate and sometimes emotional opposition to COVID-19 mandates in his own nation, came to Salem last month to warn local Christians what they could potentially face.
While to some his words might sound alarmist, he says they are sincere and based on his own experience growing up under tyranny in Eastern Europe.
“If you don’t rise up now, you will have Canada tomorrow and Nazi Germany the next day,” Pastor Artur Pawlowski told a luncheon gathering of about 25 Salem-area Christian leaders Aug. 12 at Salem House of Prayer.
Pawlowski’s visit came during a five-day stop in Oregon and Washington, part of a larger national tour he is currently making throughout the U.S. He is urging Americans to protect the religious freedom that he believes is quickly evaporating in Canada.
His talk in Salem came five days after a Portland worship gathering that was to feature him as speaker was attacked violently by Antifa (see story on this website). He also spoke at a gathering of the Church at Planned Parenthood, outside the Planned Parenthood location in Salem; at another service at Riverfront Park in Salem; and at The River Church in Salem.
Pawlowski, 47, is not one to be shy about what he believes, and is unafraid to challenge the governing authorities when he deems their actions unlawful. He told the Salem luncheon attenders that he has been arrested nine times for his activism — “never for a real crime” he said — and he currently faces a potential four-year jail sentence for holding services at his church in Calgary, Alberta, in non-compliance with COVID health regulations.
His on-camera outcry against the arrival during Easter church services of investigating police officers and health officials — who Pawlowski openly called “sick people” and “Gestapo psychopaths” — made headlines throughout the world and opened many doors for him as a preacher. “I’ve never had a bigger pulpit, than me yelling at the cops, ‘Gestapo, get out!’’’ he said.
Also aired heavily on media was the eventual arrest in May of both Pawlowski and his brother by Calgary police on a highway as the two made their way home from church.
A native of Poland, where he grew up under that nation’s former communist government, he immigrated to Canada in 1985 and became a citizen there in 2004. In 2005 he became the founder and pastor of Street Church Ministries, where he engages in open-air preaching and Christian street outreach, including feeding and clothing the homeless.
By this year, Pawlowski was pastor of both the Cave of Adullam congregation in Calgary and Street Church Ministries; the church takes its name from a place referenced in the biblical book of Samuel.
Pawlowski said he is so vocal about infringements on rights because he grew up behind the Iron Curtain under a corrupt Polish government that then allowed no freedoms of speech, press, religion or association, and there was no justice or rule of law. “I grew up in hell on Earth, so when hell shows up I can recognize it very quickly,” he said.
Pawlowski acknowledged he has been criticized as unChristlike for how he has labeled authorities acting unlawfully, but said Jesus spoke with the same kind of fervency when necessary, such as when He called King Herod a “fox.”
“You’ve got to say to the bully, ‘No! Get out!” said Pawlowski.
He said he felt led to come to the Northwest because of the problems the region is facing and that he believes are fundamentally spiritual in nature. “God said, ‘Portland is under attack. Go stand with your brothers and sisters,’ ’’ he recalled.
Pawlowski said he was not deterred at all by the Antifa attack he experienced in the Rose City. He said he hoped he could return soon — possibly this month — to confront the city’s challenges by spending “a whole day in the belly of the beast.” But his schedule coordinator said later that a return to Oregon might have to wait a few months because of other speaking commitments.
Pawlowski told the Salem group that it is critical that followers of Christ become a unifying force against evil.
“We have to learn to come together, even if we don’t agree on everything,” he said. “I don’t agree with my wife all the time, but I don’t separate from her.”
He said he “loves God’s people” and that he hoped his admonition to local Christians would be of help to them. “I’m here with you to encourage you, to help you to stand,” he said.
Luke Vettrus, pastor of Solid Rock Church in Salem, told attenders that Pawlowski’s talk was inspired. “I believe he’s been sent here with a message from Heaven for the Church here,” he said.