"The reaction to the virus is an orchestrated effort to destroy the church, to destroy conservatives, to destroy people with basic values and traditional values in a society. At worst it was programmed and originated deliberately, at best it was exploited and used for their purpose,” Ionescu told the Epoch Times' "Crossroads" program.
Ionescu also noted the hypocrisy as some officials condoned huge demonstrations with no restrictions, but banned others that were democratic and religious in nature.
"People should understand the church is not a video game, a church is not an online affair. Church has to be physical, and it has to be a gathering, and has to be a fellowship, physical fellowship. This is the core and is an elemental basic survival prerogative of a church and religious activity obviously – for me closing down churches was a death sentence for the church."
It is riveting to note that communism in Ionescu’s home country ended in 1989 because of a revolution that started in response to an attempt by the government to evict Hungarian Reformed church pastor, Laszlo Tokes.
Ionescu is a senior pastor of Elim Romanian, one of the six Romanian-American congregations in the Chicago area. In May 2020, he defied Illinois Gov. Jay Robert Pritzker's stay-at-home order by welcoming dozens of worshipers to a Sunday service. (Related: Chicago to churches: Comply with coronavirus mandates or have your facilities bulldozed.)
"We feel that we are discriminated against,” Ionescu told the Chicago Sun-Times back then, noting that large groups of people were allowed to shop at grocery and hardware stores. "We follow the same rules as other places that are also considered essential, and yet we cannot have more than 10 people in a service, which is ridiculous."
Elim Romanian took considerable steps to adhere to the state’s social distancing and public safety guidelines at that time: Masks, gloves and hand sanitizer were made available, temperature checks were conducted at the door and capacity was limited to 120 worshipers, though the church’s main auditorium and overflow rooms can hold 1,300. Roughly 70 people were in attendance on Sundays, including the church leadership, band and choir.
The pandemic forced people to fight for their survival and they will do anything to survive. Even the most defiant learns how to obey when life is at stake.
"When you condition a society to collectively think in terms of surviving, (being) desperate for survival you will get them to accept anything," Ionescu said.
"When people are in desperate need of survival they will be able to accept any solution that gives them hope including government-imposed mandates. Even progressivism, socialism, or communism can be accepted by an anti-communist society, as it happened to Romania after World War II and can be seen in America right now."
Ionescu recounted that during communist rule in Romania, students were taught in school that communism and Marxism can never be imposed in a society in a peaceful way – it can only be done via a revolution.
"This is because people will never voluntarily give up their freedoms, their possessions and their privileges so you need to take them away by force," he said.
The pandemic is proving to be a perfect opportunity to take these from people.
"In Romania, people had a little bit of meat, bread and milk. They had jobs provided by the communist government as long as they would fall in line and would not be individualistic about their opinions or religion," Ionescu recalled.
Because of the pandemic, some Americans are beginning to have a mindset that the government should provide handouts for people.
Ionescu claimed the education system, the media and all the trigger points of society in America have been taken over by Marxism. The country may or may not succumb to communism, but it is definitely heading in that direction.