The city of Chicago has dismissed both citations of “disorderly conduct and mob actions” against a pair of Romanian pastors for holding services with more than 10 people in May 2020.
Pastor Christian Ionescu of Elim Romania Pentecostal Church and Pastor Florin Cimpean of Philadelphia Romanian Church were represented by the religious freedom organization Liberty Counsel, who says it will “file a motion for summary judgment to the lower district court in their federal lawsuit against Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker.”
Under Illinois’ executive COVID-19 response, although churches were permitted gatherings with an unlimited number of people for nonreligious gatherings such as soup kitchens, outreach services, or unemployment and disability counseling, they were allowed no more than ten for religious services or gatherings.
Liberty Counsel’s case on behalf of the pastors has gained considerable strength in recent months in light of several Supreme Court decisions against governors who discriminated against religious organizations in their pandemic mandates.
“The churches are returning to the district court with the now overwhelming number of decisions from the Supreme Court and other federal courts of appeal striking down discriminatory executive orders against churches and places of worship,” the organization wrote.
Mat Staver, the founder and chairman of the Liberty Counsel noted in a statement that Romanian Christians know all too well how precious the right to freely assemble with their congregations truly is.
“The pastors and the Romanian churches understand communism and they are resolved to continue to fight for religious freedom,” he said.
Liberty Counsel’s own Chief Litigation Counsel Horatio G. Mihet, who is also originally from Romania, spoke to a packed building dedication service on Sunday where he was presented by the church with a plaque to express appreciation for their representing the church.
The plaque was engraved with the verse: “I can testify that by their own free will they have given to the utmost of their ability, yes, even beyond their ability. They begged us earnestly for the privilege of participating in this ministry to the saints. We did not expect that! They gave themselves to the Lord first and then to us, since this is God’s will.” – 2 Corinthians 8:3-5
Praise God for this heartening victory for religious freedom! Let us pray for the system to continue to affirm the right of Christians across the nation to gather and worship freely and in peace.
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