Chicago Mayor Prepares To Dish Out Punishments After Churches Defy Lockdown and Hold Services


Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday said the city will be taking action against churches that opened over the weekend for services in spite of lockdown orders.

WLS-TV reported that as many as 100 churches in the city were open Sunday and offered normal services amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The station reported Lightfoot warned churches that opening their doors would be dangerous and that she was willing to take action.

“This is not playing Russian roulette,” the mayor said. “This is playing with a gun that’s fully loaded and cocked.”

“We’ve been in contact with those churches, both by letter but also in contact with other leaders and tried to engage them in conversation rather than being in conflict,” she added.

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The mayor also told reporters that officials were hoping to “educate people into compliance,” rather than enforce the orders with citations or arrests.

“Our plan has always been to educate people into compliance,” Lightfoot said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “If we can do that, we will do that. We don’t want to take more aggressive measures unless we’re forced to do that because people are defying it.”

A man named Michael Valentine said he would not be deterred from attending services at Metro Praise International church, The State Journal-Register reported.

“There is something great about praising the Lord when you’re with other brothers and sisters,” he told the newspaper. “It’s powerful, and it strengthens your faith and encourages you, especially during times like these.”

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Religious leaders in the city have shared their eagerness to see their congregations return to worshipping in person. Many have called out the stay-at-home order, which allows people to cram into retail stores but prohibits them from exercising their rights to worship freely.

“We feel that we are discriminated against,” Cristian Ionescu, senior pastor of Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church, told the Chicago Sun-Times. “We follow the same rules as other places that are also considered essential, and yet we cannot have more than 10 people in a service, which is ridiculous.”

Cornerstone Baptist Church, another church that opened over the weekend, proudly announced its reopening on its website.

“We are so excited to start meeting for church again! We love and miss you, and we look forward to seeing you as soon as we can,” the church wrote on a statement on the website.

The church announced its morning and evening services would take certain measures to protect congregants and guests.

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These measures included temperature checks, alternating seating to keep people at a distance from one another and the continued closure of its nurseries.

Lightfoot announced Monday that officials were looking into which churches opened for weekend services in defiance of lockdown orders.

“Certainly there were some churches that congregated in excess of the allowable number,” she said, according to CBS Chicago, “and we will be taking action as to those individuals and those churches.”

Lightfoot said fines will be announced later in the day on Monday.

Lightfoot drew the ire of many last month when she defended her decision to get her hair styled after declaring that haircuts were nonessential.

“I’m in the public every day. And candidly, my hair was not looking the way it did. I thought maybe I’d do it myself, but I knew that would be disaster,” Lightfoot said.

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Johnathan Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor, and producer in radio, television and digital media.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.