Trump declares houses of worship essential and claims he will override governors if they disagree

Parishioners wear face masks as they attend an in-person Mass at Christ the King Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas, on May 19, 2020. San Antonio parishes that have been closed during the pandemic have began opening their doors to in-person services.Eric Gay/AP Photo
  • President Trump said he will move to designate churches and other houses of worship as essential services in a Friday announcement at the White House.
  • Trump claimed he would "override" governors who did not open up their houses of worship for in-person services, although he likely does not have the authority to do so.
  • "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," Trump said.

President Donald Trump said he will move to designate churches and other houses of worship as essential services in a Friday announcement at the White House.

Trump added that he would "override" governors who don't open up their houses of worship for in-person services, although he likely does not have the authority to do so because of the 10th amendment to the Constitution, which delegates all powers not explicitly designated to the federal government in the Constitution to the states.

"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. These are places that hold our society together and keep our people united, the people are demanding to go to church and synagogues, go to their Mosque," Trump said. Advertisement

"Ministers, pastors, rabbis, and imams and other faith leaders will make sure their congregations are safe as they gather and pray....they love their congregations, they love their people, they don't want anything bad to happen to them or to anyone else. The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now," Trump said.

"If they don't do it, I will override the governors," he added.

This comes after the White House rejected guidelines drafted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for reopening places of worship that some officials reportedly believed were too restrictive. Others, including in Vice President Mike Pence's office and in the Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council, didn't wnat to issue any reopening guidance for religious institutions.
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The rejected draft CDC guidance recommended that houses of worship temporarily stop sharing worship materials, including prayer books and hymnals, halting the use of collection trays for donations, and potentially stop musical groups from performing.

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