Church Case Could Set National Precedent

Jul 30, 2020

Liberty Counsel is preparing our Romanian church case to set national precedent at the U.S. Supreme Court. Despite what you may have read in the media, the Supreme Court has not issued any rulings on the merits regarding draconian restrictions on churches. Read on to learn how, with your help, two Romanian immigrant pastors and their churches are fighting to keep religious freedom free.

I also want to remind you of a generous challenge grant that will double the impact of your donation! -Mat

Defend America's Churches NOW and have your gift effectively DOUBLED by a generous challenge grant.

Before I share with you the next step in our Romanian church case, let me first debunk the false media reporting that the Supreme Court has ruled against churches. The Court has not issued any ruling on the merits regarding the draconian orders restricting churches. The two cases you may have read about were emergency requests pending the appeal. The cases were not ready for the Court to issue a final decision. But now we have two cases ready for the Court’s review, and both are Liberty Counsel cases.

The Pastors of Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church and Logos Baptist Ministries both emigrated to America after years of living and preaching under Soviet Romanian rule. In the old country, no religion was free.

Bibles had to be smuggled into Romania because the government dictated that the nation’s religion was no religion at all. Pastors were arrested, townspeople punished if a church met in their midst and faithful adherents often lost their livelihoods. Even private houses where underground worship services were held were demolished if discovered.

When the pastors fled to America, they did so because of the promise of America’s religious freedom. But now these pastors are seeing the very same governmental attacks on religion they witnessed under Communist Romanian rule.

IL Gov. J.B. Pritzker first tried to ban church services entirely, then limited attendance to just 10 people regardless of the size of the church sanctuary. His order permitted non-religious meetings in churches, but restricted religious meetings. Meanwhile, abortion clinics, recreational marijuana dispensaries and big-box stores had no such restrictions.

After closing their churches for weeks, the pastors pushed back and began holding worship services with social distancing and limited capacity.

Then Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot towed every car within 9 blocks of the church and sent three police cars to block the private church parking lot.

Instead of generating animosity toward the church, the neighbors stood in solidarity with the Romanians because they knew the members did not use street parking. The mayor was furious. She then charged the pastors with “Disorderly Conduct” for having more than 10 people in church. The churches continued to meet.

Then the city issued Elim Romanian Pentecostal a “Summary Abatement” letter, declaring the church to be a “public nuisance” and threatened to immediately seize and potentially bulldoze the church building should more than 10 people gather for worship.

But these Romanians continued to meet for worship and service of the Lord. They were not about to return to the restrictions of communism.

Liberty Counsel filed for an emergency injunction pending appeal with the Supreme Court. Within four-hours of his response, Gov. Pritzker lifted his unconstitutional church restrictions. However, he refused to commit to the Court of Appeals that he would not implement those same, or worse, restrictions in the future. So now Liberty Counsel will be filing for a U.S. Supreme Court review of the Romanians’ case.

DON'T LET AMERICA'S CHURCHES BE DRIVEN UNDERGROUND!

Liberty Counsel’s case representing the Illinois Romanian churches will be the first COVID church closure case to be filed with the United States Supreme Court requesting its final review.

As it currently stands, there are just a few cases making their way through the federal Courts of Appeal. Liberty Counsel is lead counsel in five of those cases, four of which are pending Courts of Appeal -- for Kentucky, Maine, Virginia, Illinois, and California. Earlier, we won two 3-0 decisions in our Kentucky case before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

However, at least two other federal lawsuits on behalf of churches have been handled by other legal teams. Their cases in the Fifth and the Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeal issued split decisions. With the 2-2 split of the Courts of Appeal, our Romanian church case presents a prime opportunity for the Supreme Court to settle these disputes once and for all.

Now we are working on crafting our arguments for the Supreme Court to take our case and resolve the lower court conflicts. This process will take the summer and into the early fall before the Court decides to take our case. Our Romanian church case will be the first one to reach the Supreme Court in a position in which the Court can issue a ruling on the merits.

Our own Vice President of Legal Affairs, Horatio Mihet, was raised in Communist Romania. The stories he has shared with me about the secret police banging on their door with their barking German Shepherds to search for smuggled Bibles are truly chilling.

When the communist agents discovered Bibles, they would shred them and make toilet paper. But communists are not so smart. It turns out that when you shred pages with writing, sometimes you can still read bits and pieces. The Romanians were so hungry for the Word of God that they would glean snippets of Bible verses from the shredded toilet paper!

As a 12-year old boy, Harry, as we call him, experienced freedom for the first time in his life on December 25, 1989, when Nicolae Ceausescu was executed. Harry, like these Romanian pastors, came to America because it was the “land of the free.” They dreamed of religious freedom.

Stand with us as we stand with these Romanian pastors and churches to keep America free.

I am so thankful for your unwavering support. As you know, Liberty Counsel never charges for our legal services – even in Supreme Court cases which bring extraordinarily high expenses. Few pastors or churches could afford to fight for their freedoms in cases like these. YOUR generosity ensures that Liberty Counsel can defend our unalienable constitutional freedom of religion, not just for these churches, but for every American church.

And for a limited time, a generous challenge grant will DOUBLE your impact in helping defend America’s churches. Please, do not let this blessing pass by. This will be a long battle, but with your help and God’s grace, we will prevail!

Defend America's Churches NOW and have your gift effectively DOUBLED by a generous challenge grant.

“And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I [am] with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.” Jeremiah 1:19

In Christ,

Mat Staver
Founder & Chairman

P.S. Please don't let this challenge grant opportunity pass you by. America's pastors and churches are relying on YOU, a faithful Liberty Counsel supporter, to help ensure religious freedom remains FREE! Select here or the graphic below.

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