Though two churches in Georgia and Texas recently had to re-close their doors after their congregations predictably began being razed by coronavirus, President Trump says governors across the country must allow places of worship to open this weekend.
“Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics essential, but have left out churches and houses of worship. It’s not right. So I’m correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential,” Trump said during a press conference at the White House on Friday, CNN reported.
Trump said he was calling upon governors to “allow churches and places of worship to open right now.”
“If there’s any question, they’re going to have to call me, but they’re not going to be successful in that call,” Trump added.
“The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now, this weekend. If they don’t do it, I will override the governors,” he continued.
Just days before the President’s declaration, the CDC had published a report highlighting a church in Arkansas where 92 congregants got infected with the deadly COVID-19 disease and spread it to an additional 26 people in the surrounding community. The outbreak left 4 people dead.
The CDC report, published on May 19, recommended that faith-based organizations work with local officials to modify activities so as to prevent COVID-19 transmission to their congregations and communities.
But the President’s announcement on Friday was accompanied by new CDC guidance on church gatherings that basically gives permission for people to do whatever they want in the name of faith.
We’re sure the change in tone from the CDC is just a coincidence.
White evangelical leaders, including those from the Southern Baptist Convention and the First Liberty Institute have welcomed Trump’s announcement according to CNN, but representatives from the Interfaith Alliance and the Muslim and Jewish faiths have said they will keep their doors closed and their congregations safe this weekend.
In a statement to HuffPost, faith leader and head of the Poor People’s Campaign Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II challenged the religiosity of the President’s announcement.
“It’s a violation of loving your neighbor as yourself to do something that you know could put your neighbor in harm’s way,” Rev. Barber said. “That’s a fundamental violation.”