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Inside Norwich, an Ontario town at war with a church ‘controlling’ its citizens

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Every Sunday, the agricultural hamlet of Norwich, Ont., becomes a ghost town. Almost all the town’s shops — including Foodland, Norwich’s only supermarket and its Shoppers Drug Mart — are shuttered.

No one is mowing their lawn or dining out. The sports fields sit empty. On the desolate main street, a trickle of people stop to use an ATM while a group of women etch rainbows onto the sidewalk with chalk.

They’re gone by the time the road swells with traffic at 11 a.m., when hundreds of cars stream out of the Netherlands Reformed Congregation’s (NRC) Sunday morning service and form a traffic jam about a kilometre long.

Residents say it’s this wealthy church that has created a bleed between theocratic rule and secular politics, currying political favour, shunning the LGBTQ2 community, and demanding recreation and businesses shutter on Sundays — even though Sunday shopping has been legal in the province for decades.

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