Trump Orders States to Allow Church Services, Sends Warning to Governors
'If they don't do it, I will override the governors,' the president warned during presser
President Donald Trump has order states to allow churches to resume services.
Speaking during a Friday press briefing, the president sent a clear message to state officials that churches must be allowed to hold services amid the pandemic.
Trump also sent a warning to state leaderships who may defy his request, saying: "If they don't do it, I will override the governors."
President Trump called a news conference on short notice Friday to announce that places of worship would be considered essential services under federal guidelines.
He told governors they must now allow them to reopen and operate immediately.
Following legal challenges in several states about statewide stay-at-home orders prohibiting or severely limiting the ability for churches to meet, the president warned that any governor who resists his order to lift restrictions on worship gatherings will have to deal with him directly.
His order applies to churches, synagogues, mosques, and any other house of worship.
"The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now," Trump said.
"For this weekend. If they don't do it, I will override the governors.
"In America, we need more prayer, not less."
The president pointed out some of the other services that have been deemed "essential" by governments.
"Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential," the president said.
"But have left out houses of worship. That's not right."
Trump: "I call upon governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now. If there is any question, they're going to have to call me but they're not going to be successful in that call." pic.twitter.com/GnuXW3GP3t— Axios (@axios) May 22, 2020
Pastors have been cited or arrested for defying coronavirus lockdown orders by holding in-person services with gatherings larger than the pandemic rules allow, according to The Blaze.
The Department of Justice has been supportive of churches in some of these instances, viewing the limitations on religious gatherings as a violation of the First Amendment.
At the same time, some churches have had negative outcomes from gathering during the pandemic.
A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlighted an Arkansas church where 92 people attended church events in one weekend, leading to 35 COVID-19 infections and three deaths.
As a result, the CDC warns faith organizations to be aware of the risk of high transmission rates if they choose to begin gathering in-person.
Trump: "Govs need to ... allow ... places of faith to open right now, this weekend. If they don't do it, I will override the govs."— Maegan Vazquez (@maeganvaz) May 22, 2020
Birx in areas w/high cases: "Maybe they can’t got this week if there’s high numbers of Covid cases. Maybe they wait another week."
Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus response task force, suggested that churches in areas with high infection rates may want to wait before reopening, regardless of Trump's order.