The coronavirus outbreak now has police physically blocking churchgoers from freely exercising their religion in Chicago, with police preventing people from parking in some church parking lots on May 17.
The rationale was of course Illinois’ COVID-19 stay-at-home order.
“Officers will continue to monitor any possible large gatherings in their districts and issue any citations where necessary,” the Chicago Police Department said, in a statement offering a glimpse of a Constitution-less America.
The department said in a statement that the city would prevent free assembly by banning parking near certain buildings, with the goal of stopping large numbers of people from attending planned gatherings that the government ruled nonessential and dangerous.
Police kept vehicles from parking at Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church as people gathered for Sunday evening services, NBC Chicago reported.
Pastor Cristian Ionescu characterized the city’s efforts as “vindictive.”
On May 18 Mayor Lori Lightfoot threatened to fine churches that defy the state’s stay-at-home order by gathering more than 10 people to worship in person. Police also reportedly gave out citations for other churches in the city that held services Sunday, according to NBC Chicago.
Police said in a statement that they are requesting for people to stay at home and continue practicing social distancing, so when the city can reopen, people can return to in-person worship services.
Lightfoot asked churches on May 18 to hold off on in-person gatherings until the city begins to reopen in June.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman, a Clinton appointee, ruled against two churches, including Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church, who wanted to run adjusted in-person services during the stay-at-home order. Elim Romanian still held services on the Sunday following the ruling.