The pastor of a Baptist church in Chicago told the “Todd Starnes Radio Show” Tuesday that his sermon on Sunday was interrupted by the city’s police department that he likened to Soviet-style KGB members.
Pastor Courtney Lewis of the Cornerstone Baptist Church said the police were armed and arrived in three squad cars and two unmarked SUVs. He said his church attendance was only 45—about half a normal Sunday.
Lewis said the police were following protocols put in place by Mayor Lori Lightfoot. He said the only thing Lightfoot has not done yet is “beat the doors down and arrest our members.”
He said he is currently working with an attorney to obtain a video of church members entering the building, which he said was clearly an act of intimidation.
“The mayor said that she would ‘educate us into compliance,’” he said. “No, it is intimidating us into compliance. And we’re not going to comply.”
Lewis insisted that his church is doing everything it can to go above and beyond the standards set by the Centers of Disease Prevention and Control. He said all members need to wear masks, there are hand-sanitizer stations and temperatures are taken at the entrance. He said their standards are far more advanced than businesses deemed essential.
“We’re taking it serious,” he said. “Because we do believe it’s a serious thing, but at the same time we’re not willing to give up our constitutional right of peacefully assembling.”
He said there was a representative from the mayor’s office who was there with police who said he was “sorry” for the whole situation. Lewis said he believes it was damage-control from the mayor’s office.
Todd Starnes, the radio host, said churches are under attack across the U.S. due to coronavirus restrictions. Starnes later spoke to Hogan Gidley, the deputy White House press secretary, who said President Trump has been “clear on the issue” and said that places of worship are essential.
“They should be open and people should be able to worship freely,” he said. “This president stood up for religious freedom at every turn and he’s doing so again.”
Lewis told Starnes that he is a Trump-supporter and recently sent a letter to a federal district attorney about the matter. Lewis said politicians like Lightfoot should worry about other issues facing the community. He said he has to keep his church doors locked during service do to the violence outside his doors.
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“If I were a government official I would not mess with the church of Jesus Christ,” he said. “This is an eternal business we’re talking about.”