The city of Chicago blocked parking outside some churches in the Windy City Sunday and Monday the mayor warned they could face fines for attending in-person services.
Dozens of churches across the country, including a handful in Illinois, participated in “Peaceably Gather Sunday,” organized by Kentucky pastor Brian Gibson, which sought to defy states’ coronavirus stay-at-home orders. In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker‘s order doesn’t allow more than 10 people at a place of worship.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city was prepared to enforce the orders against houses of worship that hold in-person services, and though Chicago police said there were no arrests made or citations issued Sunday, that could change in the coming days, the Chicago Tribune reports.
“The local districts are reviewing reports of large gatherings that took place today at various establishments not abiding by the Stay at Home order,” Lightfoot said Sunday night in a statement. “Following that review, the Department will issue and mail citations where necessary.”
Lightfoot, who defended a haircut because she is the “public face” of the city, warned arrests could be made earlier this month, saying, “We will shut you down, we will cite you, and if we need to, we will arrest you and we will take you to jail,”
Jeremy Dys, special counsel for litigation and communications at First Liberty Institute, which represented two churches in the state holding in-person services, questions Lightfoot’s actions.
“Rather than criminally prosecute pastors, priests, or rabbis, why wouldn’t the mayor of Chicago find creative ways for Americans to safely and prudently engage the free exercise of their religion?” Dys told Fox News. “After all, the same people who are safely social distancing at the grocery store are the same people hoping to safely return to their houses of worship.”
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