President Trump Pressures Governors to Let Houses of Worship Reopen, Declaring Them ‘Essential’

Report by Paula Antolini. May 23, 2020, 9:56AM EDT

St. Mary Church on Route 302 in Bethel, CT.
(File Photo ©2017 BETHEL ADVOCATE / Paula Antolini)

In a previously unannounced news briefing at the White House on Friday, President Donald Trump directed America’s governors to immediately reopen churches and other places of worship that were closed during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Trump stated that he would “override” governors if they refused to follow this request.

Trump said:

“At my direction, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is issuing guidance for communities of faith.

“I want to thank Dr. Redfield and the CDC for their work on this matter and all the other work they’ve been doing over the past, what now seems like a long period of time.

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“Today I am identifying Houses of Worship, churches, synagog and mosques as essential places that provide essential services. Some governors have deemed that the liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It’s not right.

“So I’m correcting this injustice and calling ‘Houses of Worship’ essential. I call upon governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now. If there’s any question, they’re going to have to call me, but they’re not going to be successful in that call.

“These are places that hold our society together and keep our people united. The people are demanding to go to church snd synagog, go to their mosque. Many millions of Americans embrace worship as an essential part of life. The ministers, pastors, rabbis, imams and other faith leaders will make sure that their congregations are safe as they gather and pray. I know them well. They love their congregations. They love their people. They don’t want anything bad to happen to them or anybody else.

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“The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now, for this weekend. If they don’t do it I will override the governors. In America we need more prayer not less. Thanks you very much, thank you.”

Whether or not the president can legally require U.S. governors to follow his requests remains to be seen. If he tries to enforce his order it could cause an upheaval regarding those who want to protect the United States Constitution and the freedoms of the First Amendment.