Chicago Mayor Continues Bullying Romanian Churches

May 19, 2020

CHICAGO, IL – Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot continues her bullying against the Romanian churches that have begun in-person worship services. Pastor Daniel Chiu of the Romanian church Logos Baptist Ministries received two “disorderly conduct” citations for holding a morning service and an evening service last Sunday. Each fine is $100, and Pastor Chiu was given a court date of July 14. 

Liberty Counsel represents Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church and Logos Baptist Ministries, which have filed a federal lawsuit against Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his unconstitutional executive orders discriminating against churches by restricting in-person worship services to no more than 10 people while allowing commercial and non-religious entities to accommodate large crowds. 

Last Sunday, the mayor also blocked off nine blocks around the churches posting “No Parking” signs, hoping she would get the neighbors mad at the church. However, the churches are not using street parking with their limited services. The aldermen sent letters to the neighbors of the churches instructing them not to park on the street from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. The letters stated the reason for the “No Parking” signs was due to the Romanian churches holding limited services.

When Mayor Lightfoot realized this tactic did not work, she stationed police Sunday night at the entrance to the private parking lot of Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church, refusing to allow anyone to park. The police trespassed on private property and interfered with private contractual rights, not to mention grossly violating the Constitution. This tactic also did not work, and the church held its limited service. 

On Saturday night, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit did not grant an injunction pending appeal, but the Court did grant expedited briefing. Instead of an appeal taking many months or more than a year, the full briefing and oral argument will be completed in about three weeks. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s executive orders do not allow worship services that include more than 10 people, regardless if participants meet or exceed the appropriate social distancing and hygiene guidelines, while allowing so-called “essential” commercial and non-religious entities such as liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries, warehouse clubs, and ‘big box’ stores to accommodate large crowds and masses of persons without scrutiny or the 10-person limit. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “It is beyond belief that a pastor would be charged with ‘disorderly conduct’ for peacefully and safely holding a church service. Think about it – a pastor who survived Communist Romania is charged with ‘disorderly conduct’ for holding a church service in America – the Land of Free. This is shameful. The repression against the church under Communism did not succeed, and it will not succeed here in America.” 

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