Charges against Churches that Violated COVID-19 Rules in Chicago Dropped


The charges made against churches in Illinois which violated COVID-19 restriction laws by holding in-person services during the lockdown have been dropped. The Christian Post reports that in May 2020, Philadelphia Romanian Church and Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church were accused by the city of Chicago of ‘’mob action’’ and ‘’disorderly conduct’’.

However, on Monday, Chicago’s Department of Administrative Hearings released an order that there would not be a penalty on the churches for holding the services. The order was celebrated by the conservative law firm, The Liberty Counsel, which represented Logos Baptist Ministries and Elim Church in litigation over the restrictions.

The founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, Mat Staver made a statement to this effect on Monday. He said,

“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.’’

In addition, he said that there is a proper understanding of communism by pastors and the Romanian churches and they are resolved to continue to seek ways to achieve religious freedom.

It will be recalled that last year, the governor of Illinois, J.B. Pritzkter issued orders to limit physical worship to 10 persons. In May, 2020, the orders became effective. Meanwhile, Elim organized services as they observed social distancing guidelines. 

Also, they checked the temperature of worshippers. This action got to the Chicago Department of Public Health as it sent a letter of notification to Elim Pastor, Cristian Ionescu asking that his church desist from holding physical services which go against the state orders.

Below is an excerpt of the letter the Department Commissioner Allison Arwady wrote to Pastor Ionescu last year.

“I appeal to you as a leader in your community and remain hopeful that you will work with me for the health, safety, and welfare of all Chicagoans. If you continue to operate in defiance of the Executive Order, the city will pursue all available legal remedies.… 

‘’Any future gatherings conducted contrary to the order will be considered a failure to abate and the city will take steps necessary to abate, including Summary Abatement.”

Thereafter, a suit was filed by Elim and other churches against the restrictions on the church gathering. The litigation process continued even as restrictions on gathering for houses of worship in Illinois were eased gradually. 

Elim’s desire for an appeal was declined by the United States Supreme Court in March. Meanwhile, there was likelihood that the church would be temporarily closed for organizing the services.

The Liberty Counsel affirmed that there is still an ongoing litigation between Elim and Gov. Pritzker. With this, the church intends to file a motion for summary judgment against Illinois State.

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