Mat Staver, the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel and legal representative of the churches, said that the city has classified his clients as “public nuisances” due to their refusal to follow some of the city's coronavirus protocols on religious grounds.
He further said that his clients were served a letter stating that the city has “the power and duty to cause all nuisances affecting the health of the public to be abated.” This meant that the city could do everything in its power to make sure that Staver's clients do not hold any in-person religious services for the duration of the pandemic, including the possibility of tearing down the properties should they remain defiant.
During an appearance on the Todd Starnes Radio Show, Staver said that he is seeking an emergency injunction on the city's order for his clients to cease providing their congregation with in-person worship services. The motion for the injunction is headed to the desk of noted Christian and conservative Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Among the churches hit with the city of Chicago's “summary abatement” orders are the Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church, headed by Reverend Cristian Ionescu, and Metro Praise International headed by Pastor Joe Wyrostek, who told NBC Chicago that he was warned to no longer hold services that have more than 10 people present at his facilities. Ionescu has received similar citations from the city.
Wyrostek further stated that he feels very disappointed because his church was not considered an essential institution, and thus could not remain open at the height of the city's coronavirus lockdown.
Other critics of the city's coronavirus directives have pointed out how Chicago's crime rate is still very high, and how the Chicago Police Department (CPD) is spending an excessive amount of time policing churches and not enough time cracking down on the violence plaguing the city. (Related: Chicago seeking help in identifying 19 persons of interest connected to ARSON ATTACKS during city's engineered riots.)
Staver pointed out during the interview that, in a Facebook Live video filmed outside Ionescu's church, the sounds of sporadic gunfire could be heard in the distance. Todd Starnes, host of the show, said that this was unacceptable.
Watch this episode of Brighteon Conversations as Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, has an illuminating and engaging conversation with Dr. Paul Cottrell, who warns that there is a new mutation of the coronavirus out there, known as “D614G,” and that it is spreading far more rapidly than the older variants of COVID-19.
The filing of the summary abatement orders against Ionescu and Wyrostek is not the first time the city of Chicago, run by a Democratic mayor and a City Council composed almost entirely of either Democrats or Democratic Socialists, has threatened to defy the constitutional right of Chicagoans to freely express their religious beliefs.
Back in May, Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned residents against defying stay-at-home orders to attend church services. She compared going to church at a time when the city was relaxing its coronavirus lockdown measures to playing with a cocked and fully loaded gun. Lightfoot's warning drew the ire of Chicagoans, many of whom stated that they refuse to let the government tell them how, when and where they can worship.
Lightfoot followed up on her threats with several intimidation tactics. Fox News reported that the city, with the help of patrol vehicles from the CPD, blocked the parking lots of several churches. When these churches remained defiant, three of them were issued $500 fines for violating stay-at-home orders – Ionescu and Wyrostek's congregations, along with the Philadelphia Romanian Church of God headed by its senior pastor, Rev. Florin T. Cimpean.
The fines were relatively light for these churches and were meant to be warnings rather than actual deterrents. Despite this, businessman, gospel singer and former candidate for mayor of Chicago, Willie Wilson, vowed to pay for the fines himself as an act of solidarity.
Despite the fact that Wilson endorsed Lightfoot's run for the mayor's office in 2019, their relationship has frayed over her and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's handling of the coronavirus restrictions on houses of worship.
“The governor and mayor continue to trample on our constitutional rights while hiding behind a stay-at-home order that treats the church as non-essential,” said Wilson in a statement.
These escalating attacks against religious institutions culminated on May 25 when Lightfoot launched a police raid on the Chicago Cornerstone Baptist Church in the Woodlawn neighborhood in Chicago's South Side. The church was in the middle of a sermon, headed by Pastor Courtney Lewis, when officers from the CPD pounded on the church's doors and demanded that they be given entry. Fortunately, the doors were locked and Lewis refused the officers to enter. He has since said of the moment that he felt like he was confronting the KGB, the secret police of the former Soviet Union.
As churches all over Chicago continue to stand their ground against Lightfoot and her administration's attacks against freedom of worship and assembly, there's no telling what will happen in the next phase of the city's battle, especially if the churches have no legal defenses to turn to.
Many parts of the United States are rightfully relaxing their lockdown measures, but that doesn't mean the pandemic is over – far from it, in fact. Stay updated on how the coronavirus is progressing through the world and how governments are reacting to the possibility of a second wave of infections at Pandemic.news.