In a press conference on Friday, President Trump declared that he was deeming houses of worship “essential,” and that he would override any governor who tries to keep churches closed.

“Today I’m identifying houses of worship, churches, synagogues and mosques as essential places that provide essential services,” President Trump declared. “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’m correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential.”

The President stated that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would be updating its guidelines so that houses of worship would now be classified as essential services, thereby encouraging governors to allow churches to reopen immediately.

President Trump called on state governors to allow churches to reopen “right now.” He said that if governors had any problem with reopening churches, they could call him to protest, but they wouldn’t be successful.

“The governors need to do the right thing and allow these essential places of faith to open right now, for this weekend. If they don’t do it, I will override the governors,” President Trump stated.

The President also made clear that individual leaders at different houses of worship would be responsible for protecting the health of their congregation. “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 to anybody else,” he said.

The CDC released interim guidelines for churches that are reopening with recommendations on how to ensure the safety of their congregants while in church. The guidelines include guidance on promoting healthy hygiene practices, cloth face coverings, cleaning the place of worship and recommended social distancing.

President Trump’s new guidelines comes just days after the Catholic Bishops Conference and The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod sent a letter to Gov. Tim Walz, D-Minn., informing him that they would be reopening on May 26 despite his executive order prohibiting in-person worship gatherings of more than 10 people.

Gov. Walz’s current executive order allows retail outlets, malls, casinos, pot shops and pet grooming services to reopen, but not houses of worship.

“These are places that hold our society together and keep our people united,” President Trump said on the importance of reopening houses of worship. “In America, we need more prayer. Not less.”


You can follow this author on Twitter @MettlerZachary