A group of pastors have announced their intent to openly defy Illinois Governor J.B Pritzker’s stay-at-home orders by issuing a declaration that they are opening their churches for in-person services on May 10, no matter the consequences.
The move comes several days after The Beloved Church, a small congregation in Lena, Illinois, held their own in-person services shortly after they filed a federal lawsuit protesting what they view as their state’s severe and oppressive COVID-19 containment policies. The state had been restricting churches from gathering at all, deeming them to not be “essential actively.”
On the day The Beloved Church filed the suite, the Governor office released a modified executive order that unambiguously allowed Illinois residents to leave their homes “to engage in the free exercise of religion.”
The updated order deems attending church and engaging in religious practices to now be considered a permitted essential activity “provided that such exercise must comply with Social Distancing Requirements and the limit on gatherings of more than ten people in keeping with CDC guidelines for the protection of public health.”
The small acquiescence from the state was too little, too late, and too bad.
Despite the overture from the government to partially relax their fingers wrapped around the churches throat, the Romanian pastors are insistent that they will not relent or change course based on their deeply-held convictions, and are ready to die on this hill. They say they have lived under Romanian communism and are painfully familiar with living under the heavy hand of a totalitarian regime, and will tolerate it no more.
Here is the letter issued to the Governor. It’s a bit of a barn-burner. Bold emphasis added by the signers. Highlighter added by us for clarity and emphasis as well.
We also have an official statement from Pastor Cristian Ionescu, one of the pastors who signed the letter, in which he delves more into his motivation and thinking and theological implications of the letter and his actions
We will be following this story and will be updating accordingly