Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is coming down hard on at least two Chicago churches that decided to hold in-person services a couple weeks ago.
Illinois has mandated that no church can have more than ten people in the building at one time for the foreseeable future. Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church and Logos Baptist Ministries had been forsaking their assembly since the outbreak of the pandemic, but decided – with proper social distancing and sanitizing measures in place – that they needed to obey God rather than man.
Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel says Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (pictured) seems to have taken the civil disobedience personally. "First, she put up 'No Parking' signs nine blocks around the churches, and therefore the residents [in those areas] couldn't even park. The residents' personal cars were being towed."
According to Staver, that was the mayor's attempt to enflame residents' anger against the church. "She endangered the church and the people who attend that church," the attorney adds. "She literally painted a target on them."
When the mayor found out the church had more than enough private parking, she stationed police cars to block the parking lot. When that didn't work, Mayor Lightfoot had the pastors cited.
"The pastor of the Logos Baptist Ministries Church has actually been cited for two disorderly conduct charges. [That's] unbelievable," says Staver. "In their view, attending church is disorderly conduct; it's criminal."
Liberty Counsel has filed a federal lawsuit against Governor J.B. Pritzger, which the court has promised to expedite. Staver says the persecution isn't setting well with members of the two churches.
"These pastors and many of the people who attend these Romanian churches came from communist Romania, where they were familiar with the government harassment and even pastors being arrested," he shares with OneNewsNow. "They never dreamed in their wildest imagination that this would ever happen in America."
And on the West Coast?
In a letter this week to Governor Gavin Newsom (D-California), the head of the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division delivered the following message: Your plan to reopen California discriminates against churches.
As explained by the governor, restaurants and other secular businesses are being allowed to reopen under social distancing guidelines – but churches are limited to online and similar services. The DOJ's Eric S. Dreiband, assistant AG for the Civil Rights Division, told Newsom that despite an "unprecedented" pandemic, the governor should allow some in-person worship services under the current second phase of Newsom's four-part plan to reopen California.
"It's textbook discrimination," said Abraham Hamilton III, general counsel for American Family Association. "I've said repeatedly [on American Family Radio] and in other places that whatever emergency powers that are utilized, it has to be applied equally across the board. [So for example] you cannot allow Sonic to have people come in person and then tell the church 'You can only have Zoom meetings.'"
The "Sonic" example actually happened in Greenville, Mississippi. After the mayor there frowned on churches having drive-in services during the coronavirus pandemic, attorney Ryan Tucker of Alliance Defending Freedom told OneNewsNow that it was fine for people to go to the nearby Sonic, sit in their vehicle, and eat. However, they could not go to Temple Baptist Church in Greenville, sit in their vehicle, and listen to the sermon being preached.
ADF was representing Temple Baptist Church in a case it won against the mayor.
Editor's Note: The American Family Association is the parent organization of the American Family News Network, which operates OneNewsNow.com.