President Donald Trump on Friday staged a dramatic unscheduled news conference to proclaim that he would require governors to reopen churches and other houses of worship and exempt them from coronavirus lockdowns.
Trump issued a brief statement – and avoided questions – in the White House briefing room, as more and mores states are reopening just before Memorial Day weekend, with some states like Maryland and Virginia yet to see downward slopes of infection that health experts want.
‘Today I’m identifying houses of worship – churches, synagogue[s] and mosques – as essential places that provide essential services,’ Trump said in the White House briefing room.
President Donald Trump said he is requiring governors to exempt churches and houses of worship from coronavirus lockdowns
To hammer home the point two days before Sunday, Trump mocked governors who have deemed establishments like liquor stores ‘essential’ stores that could remain open despite closures that hit houses of worship.
‘Some governors have deemed a 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,’ Trump said, reading from a statement.
‘I call upon governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now,’ he continued. But getting a waiver is a tall order.
‘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 synagogue, go to their mosque.’
A number of states – including those run by Trump allies – have kept liquor stores open among lockdown orders, and some state have shown upticks in drinking.
Pastor Emily Nesdahl leads a virtual Sunday service online broadcast due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions at Peace Lutheran church, featuring drawings of parishioners taped to the pews, in Burlington, North Dakota, U.S. April 26, 2020. Picture taken April 26, 2020. REUTERS/Dan Koeck
People walk through the church before a press conference with the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, at Our Saviour Parish in Manhattan regarding the reopening of churches in the archdiocese amid the coronavirus pandemic on May 21, 2020 in New York City
The Rev. Jorge Gomez walks to the altar before conducting morning Mass with no worshippers present at the Basilica Of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle on Saturday, March 21, 2020, in San Juan, Texas. The Mass was broadcast on the church’s Facebook page. The Diocese of Brownsville announced the the public will not be allowed in the church to stop the spread of the coronavirus
Trump said governors who sought waivers would not get them
Trump walked off without taking questions
Houses of worship across the country closed as states banned gathering of more than ten, and remained show even as an Easter reopening Trump once touted came and went.
There were early clusters of coronavirus in some churches, including one in the Washington, D.C. area, as well as at funerals and other services.
Churches who meet threshold of employees have been able to get government small business assistance to keep paid staff on the payroll.
Trump mentioned three different faith and triumphed in the decision, which accords with new Centers for Disease Control guidelines.
‘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,’ Trump said.
‘I know them well. They love their congregations. They love their people they don’t want anything bad happened to them or to anybody else,’ he added.
‘The governor’s 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,’ he said, although he did not state what authority he would use.
‘We need more prayer not less,’ he said, before abruptly leaving a press conference that other officials carried on. Trump did not answer questions about whether he would attend church. He attended an Easter service with an evangelical minster remotely.