Just two days after President Trump pronounced that churchs and other houses of worship are "essential," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot authorized a raid on a black South Side church.
President Trump's announcement was not to force churches to open.
Rather, it was to make clear that as "essential," churches and houses of worship have the right to exercise their religion, even during the coronavirus lockdown.
Lightfoot, however, took matters into her own hands.
On Sunday, she authorized police to raid the Chicago Cornerstone Baptist Church, which is attended primarily by black worshippers.
If President Trump did this, the media would incessantly call him a "racist."
But does Lori Lightfoot get a pass because she's black and is Chicago's first openly gay mayor?
It certainly appears that way.
However, Chicago residents were extremely unhappy with the raid.
See some of their reactions below:
Chicago Mayor Lightfoot's lockdown orders are among the strictest in the nation.
Breitbart reports that as the raid happened, the pastor attempted to shut the doors to block the officers from entering:
On Sunday, Chicago’s first openly gay mayor, Lori Lightfoot, mounted a raid on a black South Side church for holding services in defiance of her coronavirus lockdown orders.
Lightfoot reportedly sent three marked squad cars and two unmarked cars full of officers to the Chicago Cornerstone Baptist Church in the South Side’s Woodlawn neighborhood. Woodlawn is just south of Hyde Park, the area in which the Obamas lived for a short time before Barack became president.
The pastor of the mostly black congregation, Courtney Lewis, reportedly shut and locked the doors and refused to allow the officers to gain entry to the building, Todd Starnes reported.
Pastor Lewis told Starnes that he felt like he was confronting “the Soviet-style KGB” as the officers pounded on his doors and demanded entry to shut the church down.
“Thankfully, our doors were locked as a normal safety precaution we take each service to protect our members from the escalating gun violence in Chicago,” Lewis said.
A sentry that is usually posted outside the sanctuary to monitor the street during service also reported seeing occupants of a dark car with tinted windows filming the incident through one opened window.
“All we are seeking is the same consideration and trust that is being tendered toward the liquor stores, abortion clinics, and Walmart,” Lewis told Starnes.
Lewis is also seeking help from U.S. Attorney John Lausch. “We are trying to follow the laws of man as much as reasonably possible, but when the laws of man conflict with the laws of God, I, as a pastor, have a duty to follow the laws of God,” Lewis wrote in a recent letter to Lausch. “We will not be intimidated by this overhanded government bully, but we are requesting the assistance of our president and our Justice Department in correcting this grave miscarriage of the law.”
Lightfoot, Chicago’s Mayor since May of last year, has been targeting the city’s churches for several weeks as houses of worship have begun balking at her draconian lockdown orders.
Late last week, Lightfoot excoriated the city’s churches, saying that their desire to re-open is “dangerous and foolish.”
Also last week, the city began fining churches that Lightfoot thinks are violating her coronavirus lockdown orders. After some churches started holding services on the second weekend of May, fines were handed out to churches, including Philadelphia Romanian Church of God, Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church, Metro Praise International, and others.
President Trump pronounced that churches and other houses of worship are "essential" to prevent this exact scenario.
The right to exercise religion is explicitly protected by the U.S. Constitution.
Trump's pronouncement doesn't mean that churches must open.
Rather, it simply protects them by giving them the ability to open and worship responsibly.
While Chicago Cornerstone Baptist Church was singled out by Lori Lightfoot, it appears that multiple churches in Illinois have been defying the draconian lockdown orders.
NBC Chicago reports that a protest against the strict lockdown was dispersed in Chicago's Millennium Park:
A "large unpermitted gathering" at Chicago's Millennium Park was dispersed Monday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted.
Images on social media appeared to show that the gathering was a "Reopen Illinois" rally of people pushing to lift coronavirus restrictions earlier than the state's intended timeframe. Illinois remains under a stay-at-home order through the end of the month that prohibits any gatherings not deemed to be essential.
"Regarding today’s large unpermitted gathering at Millennium Park: while we respect 1st amendment rights, this gathering posed an unacceptable health risk and was dispersed. No matter where in the city you live, no one is exempt from @GovPritzker’s stay-at-home order," Lightfoot tweeted at 2:41 p.m.
When asked if she would send Chicago police to the rally, she tweeted a simple "Yes."
No wonder President Trump stepped in to attempt to protect Constitutional rights!
According to Politico:
President Donald Trump is making a show of siding with religious groups in their clashes with state and local authorities — but his own Justice Department’s actions are exposing the challenges involved in trying to bring the federal government's power to bear on the issue.
The president’s sweeping pronouncement Friday that states must treat all churches and other houses of worship as essential under coronavirus lockdown orders “right now” was met with a now familiar chorus of reaction from critics and legal commentators that he has no authority to issue such a directive.
Mayors such as Lori Lightfoot do not have the authority to override the U.S. Constitution.
As the economy safely reopens, people have the right to assess their own risk tolerance and to practice personal responsibility.
As Ronald Reagan said, "Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem."