Pastor Cristian Ionescu of Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church has received two “disorderly conduct” citations for holding a morning and an evening service last Sunday. Liberty Counsel represents Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church and Logos Baptist Ministries, which have filed a federal lawsuit against Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his unconstitutional executive orders discriminating against churches. Now both churches have been cited twice for holding peaceful worship services.
Pastor Ionescu also received a second letter from the Chicago Department of Health that states, “The Stay at Home order permits individuals to leave their homes, however, in order to slow the spread of this disease, such exercise must comply with social distancing requirements which includes limiting gatherings of more than ten people. Thus, traditional faith-based services of more than ten individuals are not permitted at this time.”
This 10-person limit applies to all churches, including large churches that have multiple meeting venues, like these two churches. Elim Church has a campus of approximately 40,000 square feet, with 750 seats in its main auditorium and an additional 550 seats in overflow rooms (1,300 seats total). Logos Church has a campus of approximately 36,000 square feet, with 425 seats in its main auditorium and 100 seats available in an overflow room. These churches, and many others like them, could easily accommodate many more than 10 persons, while still observing all social distancing and safety precautions.
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Both churches have taken extraordinary safety precautions before, and during, the services such as thoroughly sanitizing the facilities using a professional company, providing masks, gloves and disinfectant dispensers, and taping off chairs to put appropriate distance between the attendees.
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The churches can incorporate into their worship appropriate hygiene and social distancing better than in the non-religious places of gathering. There is no reason not to give equal treatment to religious gatherings. Failure to do so violates the First Amendment. It is outrageous that pastors would be charged with ‘disorderly conduct’ for holding a limited church service.”