Des Plaines fighting back against ‘Big Tent Revival’ meetings that are ignoring pandemic

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DES PLAINES, Ill. – The City of Des Plaines is fighting back against an unexpected gathering that appears to be ignoring the pandemic.

The religious group, known as The Last Reformation, has been putting on large “Big Tent Revival” meetings.

A supplemental city order was enacted this week and was hand-delivered to leader Torben Sondergaard and his followers. Moving forward, each gathering could lead to a $750 fine.

The order went into effect Wednesday at noon. it states that anyone living in, doing business or traveling through Des Plaines must practice social distancing, wear a face covering and limit gathering to less than 50 people.

The order said religious services can be held, as long as they are limited to under 50 people, distance is kept and masks are worn.

“It’s a group that is blatantly disregarding social distancing and not taking the pandemic seriously,” said city manager Michael Bartholomew. 

Even after the delivery of the order, which included 300 face masks, the group still appears to be ignoring pandemic precautions.

“If we get a fine, we get a fine,” leader Torben Sondergaard said. “If we get arrested, we get arrested. We have a law firm behind us.”

WGN has been told by parents that members of the group have approached minors in the city to talk about their religion.

Des Plaines said if anyone approaches your child, please call 911 and report it. 

Sondergaard said the group does not send anyone to talk to children.

“We make that very clear,” he said. “If some should have done that we are sorry but that was then not from us or against what we stand for. Many people that we don’t know comes and go all the time.”

When asked to speak to WGN, Sondergaard said the group hasn’t heard anything about a fine.

“We haven’t heard anything about that,” he said. “There was nothing about a fine of 750 in the papers we got. How can they say there is a fine on 750 to you but not public it to everyone else?”


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