Trump declares houses of worship 'essential,' pressuring governors to let them reopen

Source: Politico | May 22, 2020 | Quint Forgey, Rachel Roubein and Myah Ward

The president’s order could set off a constitutional clash over one of the core tenets of the First Amendment.

President Donald Trump on Friday commanded America’s governors to immediately reopen churches and other places of worship shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic, threatening to “override” the state leaders if they refused to follow his directive.

Speaking at a previously unannounced news briefing at the White House, the president revealed that officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were “issuing guidance for communities of faith,” and declared “houses of worship, churches, synagogues and mosques” to be “essential places that provide essential services.”

“Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship,” Trump told reporters. “It’s not right. So, I’m correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential.”

Trump emphasized he was calling upon governors to allow places of worship to resume operations “right now,” and warned that “if there’s any question, they’re going to have to call me — but they are not going to be successful in that call.”

It is unclear whether the president is legally empowered to compel the nation’s governors to take such an action. If the White House moves to enforce his order in defiance of opposition by local officials, Trump could force a constitutional clash over one of the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the First Amendment.

Challenged on Trump’s authority to unilaterally reopen places of worship, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at the briefing Friday the administration would “leave it to faith communities to reopen,” and pointed to “detailed guidance” from the federal government “about the way you can clean your facility [and] promote social distancing.”

But soon after his remarks at the White House, the president was confronted with resistance from state and local executives. Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said she would not alter her state’s plans to reopen places of worship on May 30, and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said her city would also be ignoring the White House’s edict.


Public health experts have expressed concern about the risks related to reopening places of worship, since the coronavirus appears to spread easily through singing in enclosed places.


Still, Trump insisted Friday that Americans are nevertheless “demanding to go to church, and synagogue or to their mosque,” and he predicted “the ministers, pastors, rabbis, imams and other faith leaders will make sure that their congregations are safe” when they gather.

“They don’t want anything bad to happen to them or to anybody else,” Trump said. “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.”


The CDC last week released brief, one-page checklists meant to help reopen schools, restaurants and other institutions before the agency unveiled the longer guidance this week. Those documents did not include recommendations for places of worship, but Trump said Thursday he had directed the CDC to issue those guidelines.


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  • Discussion
  •  Consistent #39227

     Consistent #39228

     Consistent #39229

     Consistent #39230

     Consistent #39231

     Consistent #39232

     Consistent #39233

     EVERYDAY #39236

    More showmanship for the fans from the dictator wannabe. It’s up to the governors to determine what is and is not essential. Let’s see if the governors will have the spines necessary to tell him what he can do with his “edict.”

     ConservativeGranny #39243

    Is there some reason why people cannot pray at home? If they need to hear a sermon there is always Zoom for Pete’s sake. I’m sure Trump is just dying to go to church too.

     EVERYDAY #39244

    Of course, people can pray at home. One of our local papers has a list of various houses of worship which stream their masses and services. Don’t even need Zoom. — just go to the website for your church or temple and click on Play. The local Catholic diocese has for years broadcast “Mass for Shut-Ins” on one of the tv stations Sunday at 6 am.

    This may sound silly, but I was thinking last night — Trump has lined up a number of men and women of the cloth to sing his praises, even declaring him “chosen by God” and all but declaring him as the messiah. Many of these have mega-churches which accommodate thousands. The services at these churches ordinarily would rake in plenty of dough for these chiselers, but now with houses of worship ordered closed, these con artists have lost much of their revenue stream. So I’m wondering if they approached Trump. told him of their plight and he agreed to help them get the money flowing again.

     Consistent #39245


     EVERYDAY #39258

    “Press Sec. Kayleigh McEnany: ‘We can all hope that this Sunday people are allowed to pray to their gods.’

    That thud you just heard was the sound of my head hitting the floor at that remark.

    But ignoring the plural of God –Miss McEnany ought to know that we have always had the right to pray to God on Sunday or any other day of the week and wherever we choose. It’s just that now it isn’t advisable to pack a room or building to do so.

    Trump said he hires only the best people. I guess this is one of them. Sigh!

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