CHICAGO – Local faith leaders are split on reopening churches after President Trump requested that they should open this weekend.
“Some governors have deemed the abortion clinics and the liquor stores as essential but have left out churches and other places of worship,” President Trump said. “It’s not right.”
In Chicago, officials fined three churches $500 last weekend.
“(Trump’s) said so many dangerous and foolish things,” Mayor Lightfoot said. “Add this to the list.”
More churches plan to defy the governor’s stay-at-home order this weekend.
“We’d just like to exercise our rights. here on this Memorial Day weekend, people died and fought for this right all over the world,” said Jimmy Tillman with MLK Republicans.
Some local faith leaders are asking the mayor and governor to expand the maximum capacity churches can hold from 10 to 50.
“We’re gonna distance, social distance,” said Pergis Thomas. “We’re going to sanitize when we walk in, we have masks already prepared, we’re not gonna do no singing.”
Earlier this week, businessman Willie Wilson said he would pay any fines up to a million dollars so churches could reopen.
“If they want to open up, let them open up,” Wilson said. “Don’t be intimidated.”
But some faith leaders are saying it’s too much, too soon.
“We’re inclined to follow these doctors advice,” Rev. Jesse Jackson said. “The most dangerous thing we can do is open our churches too fast, slow and steady wins the race.”
WGN asked the mayor’s office if the $500 fines are enough to deter churches from opening. They sent the following statement.
“Chicago’s faith communities and houses of worship are the heart and soul of not only our neighborhoods but also our families. The vast majority of Chicago’s faith leaders continue to put the health and safety of their community first by limiting services and religious convenings in accordance with the Stay at Home order. And while CPD will monitor possible large gatherings and issue enforcement measures when necessary, the Mayor’s Office continues working in partnership with local faith leaders on a gradual reopening plan to ensure all Chicagoans can practice their faith safely together.”