CHICAGO (CBS) — Church leaders who have been defying the stay-at-home order are taking a small victory lap after the president said places of worship are essential businesses.
Metro Praise International Church in Chicago was fined last week but the pastor still plans to hold two services this Sunday. He believes the support from the president only proves his point.
The Belmont Cragin Church is one of three in Chicago to receive a $500 fine for violating social distancing by having services.
“We should be able to have as many people as we can safely social distance,” said Pastor Joe Wyrostek.
But under the governor’s orders only 10 can gather at one church. Close to 60 will worship there on Sunday at two services.
“I don’t think the science backs up that we’re putting them at any greater risk than them going to the other essential businesses,” Wyrostek said.
His view gained momentum following President Donald Trump’s statements on Friday.
“Some governor’s have deemed the liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It’s not right,” President Trump said. “So I’m correcting this injustice. I’m calling houses of worship essential.”
“We are not going to rush to do something so he can fulfill a campaign promise that sets people’s lives at risk,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “He said so many dangerous and foolish things. Add this to the list.”
“If anyone is being political at this time it’s been the mayor and the governor,” said Wyrostek.
For now Metro Praise International moves forward ready to face another fine but this time with executive branch backing.
“We’re following our president,” said Wyrostek. “We’re following the CDC. We’re doing exactly what they said. If that’s not good enough for the mayor and governor, they need to be ready for that fight.”