Last week, a Chicago businessman pledged to pay $500 fines issued to three area churches that defied the state’s stay-at-home order prohibiting services of more than 10 people.
Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church, Philadelphia Romanian Church of God, and Metro Praise International Church have all been holding in-person worship services despite Chicago’s coronavirus lockdown orders. As a result, city mayor Lori Lightfoot has allowed local police to fine each congregation.
Leaders of each church believe they can continue in-person services while also abiding by social distancing rules and health guidelines.
Willie Wilson, businessman and former mayoral candidate, agrees with the churches. In fact, he has vowed to donate $1,500 to cover the cost of all three fines. During an outdoor press conference on May 22, Wilson criticized Lightfoot and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker for their authoritative overreach.
“Mayor Lightfoot and Governor Pritzker continue to intimidate the Church. The first right guaranteed by the constitution is free exercise of religion,” Wilson said. “The governor and mayor continue to trample on our constitutional rights while hiding behind a Stay at Home Order that treats the church as non-essential.”
While Wilson praised churches that “dared to worship” on Sundays despite executive orders, he questioned why the government discriminated against places of worship. If other places of business are open, churches should be as well.
“It is shameful that the church is discriminated against, while liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries and Home Depot [are] treated as essential businesses. Governor Pritzker’s order violates the moral law of the universe, which is the highest law,” Wilson said.
“All around us… Stay Home Orders are… unconstitutional because they go too far. Governor Pritzker‘s unequal and unfair application of the law as it relates to the church is unconstitutional. I am proud to stand up for Jesus Christ and pay these fines…”
Not only did Wilson commit to paying the $500 fines issued to the three churches, but he also expanded his offer to all Chicago-area churches.
“I’m offering to pay fines up to $1 million for any church that is fined or has to go to court,” he said. “To fight this evil disease, I will pledge up to $1 million.”
Wilson has run for multiple elected offices in the state of Illinois. In 2015 and 2019, he campaigned for the office of mayor in Chicago. He also made a bid to become the President of the United States. In 2019, he announced a run for the United States Senate to unseat incumbent Senator Dick Durbin in 2020.