CHICAGO — After three Chicago churches were cited for holding Sunday services this weekend, businessman Willie Wilson vowed to pay those fines.
Outside the Thompson Center Thursday, the former mayoral candidate also pledged to pay the fines of any church that decides to hold worship services.
Three churches — the Philadelphia Romanian Church of God, the Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church, and Metro Praise International — were cited.
Church leaders all held Sunday services indoors, despite warnings from Mayor Lori Lightfoot that they could face fines.
The fines for those citations were $500.
Two of those churches have said they are fighting the fines, and will go to court to argue against the disorderly conduct citation.
On Thursday, Wilson and other church leaders said they will continue to fight against the orders to stop churches from holding worship.
Wilson said he will pay the fines for any other church that decides to hold services going forward.
He said he believes people and leaders can go to church following CDC guidelines, and that religious institutions should be considered essential.
“I am confident that the court will actually throw these citations out, they will throw these fines out. The reason why they will do it is because the first amendment gives churches the right to freedom of worship and assembly,” said Attorney Richard Boykin.
Willie Wilson said, “I’m offering to pay fines up to $1 million for any church that is fined or has to go to court. To fight this evil disease, I will pledge up to $1 million.
In an earlier battle, two Chicago area churches sued the governor, saying they felt punished for holding religious gatherings. The judge in that case ruled their interest does not outweigh the healthy and safety of the public.
Phase 3 of reopening would still limit gatherings to 10 people or less, and is expected to happen May 29.