ELGIN, Ill. — Another church in Illinois is pushing back against Gov. JB Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, and phases of re-opening the state, saying they refuse to wait.
While most churches across the state have moved services online during the pandemic, a select few are growing restless an defying Pritzker’s latest stay-at-home order, including Beloved Church in Lena, which opened its doors to members on Sunday.
“It’s incumbent on every state official in Illinois to remember the constitution does not take a break during the pandemic,” Jeremy Dys, First Liberty Institute, said. “The first amendment didn’t sign a doctor’s note and hand it in and take the day off it still applies and is in full force and effect.”
Dys, who is with a national religious freedom law firm, sent a letter to the governor, as well as the Kane County Board, state’s attorney, and sheriff, on behalf of Northwest Bible Baptist Church in Elgin.
The church was under fire in late March for refusing to close its school during the first stay at home order. They now plan to resume in-person worship on May 17.
“If you’re allowed to shop down the grocery aisle, gather in the plumbing section of Home Depot, you should be able to safely gather in person at your church,” Dys said.
The church said it will require face masks, and take parishioners temperatures as they enter, seat families six feet apart in every other row of pews, use a deposit box for offerings, close child care and Sunday school, and ask those 65 and older to stay home.
The governor was asked about the communication at his daily briefing Thursday and if he plans to enforce his executive order banning gatherings of 10 or more.
“I have discouraged local law enforcement from arresting people,” he said. “I have not discouraged them from reminding people what their obligations are to each other and I would think a pastor and house of worship would know better and not encourage their parishioners to put themselves and their families in danger.”
Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain sent a statement confirming they received a letter from Northwest Bible Baptist Church, saying “They have shared their plans for reducing attendance numbers, encouraging the susceptible to not attend, and requiring PPE to enter their building. We will work with our health department and state’s attorney’s office to address violations of the governor’s executive orders, while preserving citizens’ constitutional rights.”
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