CHICAGO, IL – Two Romanian churches will file an Opening Brief today in the expedited appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in their federal lawsuit against Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his unconstitutional executive orders discriminating against churches. The Court of Appeals ordered expedited briefing and has already scheduled oral argument for June 12. Instead of taking many months or more than a year to complete an appeal, this appeal has been fast-tracked.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s executive orders do not allow worship services that include more than 10 people, regardless if participants meet or exceed the appropriate social distancing and hygiene guidelines, while allowing so-called “essential” commercial and non-religious entities such as liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries, warehouse clubs, and ‘big box’ stores to accommodate large crowds and masses of persons without scrutiny or the 10-person limit. This 10-person limit applies to all churches, including large churches that have multiple meeting venues, like these two churches.
Both churches have been targeted with aggressive bullying tactics by Gov. Prtizker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. This past Sunday, the Mayor ordered “No Parking” signs to be placed along a nine-block radius of the churches. The city then towed some of the cars of the private residents, including a nurse who arrived home from her shift at 4:00 a.m. When she went outside to check on her car at 7:00 a.m., her car had been towed. Yet, the churches do not use street parking. The residents were sent a letter stating the reason for the “No Parking” signs was due to the churches’ meeting. The letter provided the name of the churches and addresses, an outrageous action designed to create hate against the churches. But it did not work. The mayor then ordered police cars to block the private parking lot used by Elim Pentecostal Church. The pastors have also received two letters from the Health Department threatening closure, and they have been cited for “Disorderly Conduct” for merely holding church services.
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “As we approach Memorial Day, never could we imagine fighting government mob-like tactics against churches in the Land of the Free. Many people died for our freedom to keep us from a Communist society. Now we are defending those pastors and churchgoers who came from Communist Romania so they may continue to enjoy that priceless freedom for which so many fought and died, and to pass it on to future generations.”