Chicago Drops Charges against 2 Illinois Churches Cited for Holding In-Person Services despite COIVD-19 Restrictions
The city of Chicago has dropped charges against two Illinois churches that were cited for holding in-person worship services in 2020 in violation of lockdown orders.
According to The Christian Post, Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church and Philadelphia Romanian Church were cited for "disorderly conduct" and "mob action" after the two churches held services in May 2020 after the City of Chicago had issued restrictions on gatherings because of COVID-19.
On Monday, however, Chicago's Department of Administrative Hearings announced that the church would not be penalized for the May 2020 services.
"After 52 Sundays, the city of Chicago has finally dropped these outrageous 'disorderly conduct and mob action' charges against Romanian pastors for simply having more than 10 people in their church services," said Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver after the announcement.
"The pastors and the Romanian churches understand communism, and they are resolved to continue to fight for religious freedom," he added.
In 2020, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued orders that limited in-person worship gatherings to no more than 10 people. In May, Elim church hosted in-person services with social distancing and temperature checks for guests.
Elim Pastor Cristian Ionescu later received a letter from the Chicago Department of Health that asked the church to stop holding the services.
"If you continue to operate in defiance of the Executive Order, the city will pursue all available legal remedies," Department Commissioner Allison Arwady wrote in the letter.
"Any future gatherings conducted contrary to the order will be considered a failure to abate, and the city will take steps necessary to abate," the letter said.
In response to the notice, Elim joined with other neighboring churches to file a lawsuit against the gathering restrictions in hopes of receiving a guarantee that the church would not face closure.
In March, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal on the case.
Litigation is still ongoing between Elim and Gov. Pritzker, according to Liberty Counsel. The church is planning to file a motion for summary judgment against the state.
Photo courtesy: Oleksandr Baiev/Unsplash
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.