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Politics

Trump calls on churches and other houses of worship to reopen this weekend

Alamo Heights Baptist Church pastor Bobby Contreras works to clean, sanitize and prepare his church for services in San Antonio, Texas.
(Eric Gay / Associated Press)

President Trump on Friday said he has deemed churches and other houses of worship “essential” and called on governors to allow them to reopen this weekend despite the threat of the coronavirus.

“Today I’m identifying houses of worship — churches, synagogues and mosques — as essential places that provide essential services,” Trump said during a hastily arranged news conference Friday. He said if governors don’t abide by his request, he will “override” them, though it’s unclear what authority he has to do so.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had prepared reopening guidelines for churches and other houses of worship weeks ago, but the White House had refused to release them until Thursday, when Trump abruptly changed course.

More than 1,200 pastors have signed a ‘Declaration of Essentiality,’ asserting their churches are as essential as any grocery or hardware store and should be allowed to reopen.
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“I said ‘You better put it out.’ And they’re doing it,” Trump said Thursday at a Ford Motor Co. plant repurposed to make ventilators in Michigan. “And they’re going to be issuing something today or tomorrow on churches. We got to get our churches open.”

Trump on Friday stressed the importance of churches in many communities and took issue with some of the businesses that had been allowed to reopen.

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

“These are places that hold our society together and keep our people united. The people are demanding to go to church and synagogue, go to their mosque,” he said.


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