A religious school won't close its doors despite repeated requests. Now sheriff's deputies are appealing directly to parents.

Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Religious News

Kane County, Ill., sheriff's deputies spent Monday morning at Northwest Baptist Academy in Elgin, asking parents to keep their children home after school leaders refused to voluntarily shutter the school in accordance with a statewide "stay-at-home" order.

Undersheriff Patrick Gengler said his office had been in talks "all weekend starting Friday" with the school, which is part of the larger Northwest Bible Baptist Church community.

"We are waiting to see about today. We are not sure if they will open. They held church services yesterday, so we think they will try to continue," Gengler wrote in an email.

Gengler said deputies were handing out copies of a compliance letter, which reiterates Gov. J.B. Pritzker's statewide order limiting activities to those that are essential.

"So far this is the only church/school that we know of that is not in compliance with the state," he said.

School officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The school included a note about COVID-19 on both its school and church pages, though it was not clear when that note was penned. It said "freedom to assemble and exercise religion is one of the most foundational and defended rights in our nation's history. This God-given right is protected by our Constitution and has been reaffirmed countless times by our courts amidst many attempts of government overreach."

It said any decisions would be made with wisdom and prayer.


"Closing the doors of a church is a momentous decision of great consequence, and one that is not to be made lightly. At Northwest Bible Baptist Church, decisions are made based on what is in the best interest of our people, not because of government mandates," the letter said.

Gengler said deputies at the school Monday morning reported that school officials asked reporters and photographers to get off their property.

"It is our hope that the school makes the decision to honor the mandate, or in the event it stays (open) parents decide to keep their kids home. Should they insist on keeping their doors open, we will work with our state's attorney to take appropriate action," Gengler said.

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