Chicago Using Soviet Tactics to Threaten Churches

May 19, 2020

Chicago Mayor “inciting hate” against church that chose to obey God rather than man.

As you know, Liberty Counsel is defending churches across the country from unconstitutional attacks on religious liberty. One of those churches, Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church of Chicago, underwent such an attack on Sunday that even we were aghast at how far some elected officials will go to implement their illegal and tyrannical orders!

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Let me share some details about our court case in Chicago...

While the Court of Appeals did not grant an injunction pending appeal, it fast-tracked the cases for our Romanian church clients. Thus, instead of taking nearly a year to get a ruling, the court ordered a full briefing with a final decision expected in a few weeks.

In our Kentucky case we already have two wins at different federal Courts of Appeal. Therefore, a win at the appellate court for the Romanian churches will provide immediate relief, but a loss sets up this case for a trip to the U.S. Supreme Court to settle this matter nationwide!

While many of the COVID-related restrictions on churches around the country are unconstitutional, IL Gov. Pritzker’s orders are among some of the most heavy-handed.

Gov. Pritzker told reporters “there will be consequences” for disobeying his illegal edicts. By Sunday morning, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot had come up with some of her own mob-like thuggery to force the church into compliance.

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Early Sunday morning, residents for 9 blocks in any direction of Elim Romanian Pentecostal church woke to find the city had banned them from parking in their own curbside parking spots in front of their houses!

With less than 24 hours’ notice, the area residents found hastily handwritten, official “No Parking” signs posted on poles and trees around their neighborhood. Additionally, a letter was sent to residents declaring that their street-side parking had been removed because of the church’s refusal to bow to Gov. Pritzker’s illegal church shutdown orders.

The message to Pastor Ionescu and his church was clear – give up now or the entire neighborhood will be punished for your defiance...along with all of the church’s members.

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When the mayor learned the church does not use street parking, she sent police cars to block the entrance to their privately contracted parking lot! Such bullying tactics were common in Communist Romania, where “mass punishment” of nearby innocents was used to terrify neighbors away from sympathizing with “non-conformists.” Elim Romanian Pentacostal Pastor Ionescu, having lived through this type of repression in Romania, made no bones about what the Mayor is up to:

”The Mayor is inciting hate against the church which is very sad. A lot of our members risked their lives to escape communism only to find it germinating in 2020 under Mayor Lightfoot in Chicago.”

Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church and Logos Baptist Ministries will NOT cave-in to illegal and unconstitutional edicts issued by politicians apparently determined to follow a Soviet playbook of tyranny. Despite threats, these churches will continue to obey God and keep their churches open...just as they did in Communist Romania.

“We prayed for the Mayor and the Governor almost every evening since March 19. We will continue to pray for them. Yet, we are also aware of our constitutional rights. Their effort to intimidate us will make us stronger,” Pastor Ionescu told the local media.

And here’s why churches should open: This past weekend, a stranger stumbled into a church we are representing – a church that just a week before called Liberty Counsel for guidance on re-opening. The day the church re-opened, this stranger walked through their doors.

This man was not a member, nor had he never attended the church; he was hurting and overwhelmed by the world, so much so that he wanted to end it all. But by God’s grace he happened to drive by an open church and made the lifesaving decision to turn into the parking lot. Because this church opened, a man intent on killing himself instead found the healing hands and support he needed.

YOUR donations made it possible for us to counsel this church, just as your donations make it possible for us to defend our clients like Elim Romanian Pentacostal Church and Logos Baptist in federal court. Their religious rights are your religious rights, so your generous donation today not only assists these churches and their pastors, it also defends your liberty. Please, help fund the fight today!

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Chicago, Illinois, church leaders and members remain under threat of arrest and punishment as they continue to exercise their fundamental right to worship. Please continue to pray for the churches we represent, for all our staff defending them and for justice. Pray also that all those in need of the healing hands of Christ can find a church with open doors in the days to come. Take heart, God will prevail!

"Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, 'We ought to obey God rather than men.'" Acts 5:29

In Christ,

Mat Staver
Founder & Chairman

P.S. Throughout the shutdown, Liberty Counsel has been defending, counseling and legally representing many hundreds of pastors and churches seeking to obey God rather than man. Because of our work advising these churches on how to remain open, a life was saved this weekend.

We are only able to continue this vital work because of the generosity of liberty-loving, faithful donors like you. Please, make your best possible donation today...liberty and lives are at stake! Select here.