Trump declares places of worship 'essential,' setting up standoff with some governors
• President Donald Trump has unveiled new guidance classifying houses of worship as “essential services” and insisting that governors allow faith groups to worship despite the risk of furthering the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Trump made the announcement Friday afternoon at a news conference at the White House and appeared to set up a potential standoff between his administration and governors who have halted worship services during the pandemic.
“Today I’m identifying houses of worship — churches, synagogues, and mosques — as essential places that provide essential services,” he said. “So I’m correcting this injustice in calling houses of worship essential. I call upon governors to allow our 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.”
He added: “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. 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.”
The president said that if governors do not allow houses of worship to open, he will "override" them — but did not detail how he would do so.
Trump also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be issuing guidance for faith communities on how to open their doors ...
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