President declares churches “essential”
On Friday, President Trump said his administration will deem churches and other places of worship “essential” during the coronavirus pandemic. Conservatives welcome the move, as many have already largely spoken out against church closures across the country. Several lawsuits have been filed in states imposing restrictions on churches and the Trump Justice Department has long said the orders violate the Constitution.
The president called on governors to reopen places of worship over the holiday weekend telling them if they had any questions about his new declaration, then they’d have to call him.
“Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship, it’s not right. So, I am correcting this injustice,” said Trump. “In America, we need more prayer, not less,” Trump said.
During his press briefing on Friday, the president said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would issue guidance to churches on safely reopening.
States, not the federal government, have imposed the restrictions on churchgoers in order to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus. On Easter, Kentucky’s governor ordered the state police to write down license plate numbers of anyone who attended church and to order them into a mandatory quarantine.
The president isn’t legally able to override state orders but the DOJ has been pressuring governors to treat churches the same as other institutions in their state reopening plans.
This week, DOJ attorneys told California Gov. Gavin Newsom that his reopening plan amounted to “unequal treatment of faith communities” by allowing restaurants and malls to open sooner than religious institutions.
Despite those opposed to church reopenings, the president said Americans are demanding to go to church and he believes faith leaders will do everything they must to protect their congregations.
“They don’t want anything bad to happen to them or to anybody else,” Trump said.
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