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Donald Trump says he is designating churches as 'essential' and warns governors he will act if they do not allow services to resume despite being powerless to order states to reopen

Donald Trump says he is designating churches as 'essential'

  • Trump said he is declaring houses of worship 'essential' and exempt from lockdowns 
  • He said governors 'governors have deemed a liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential' but not houses of worship 
  • '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
  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany attacked journalists who questioned the proposal 
  • She said the room 'desperately wants to see these churches and houses of worship stay closed' 

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.   

Trump announces places of worship as essential in effort to reopen
President Donald Trump said he is requiring governors to exempt churches and houses of worship from coronavirus lockdowns

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 will be a tall order, he said.

'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

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 after making a statement Friday

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. Some affected dozens of people as worshippers embraced each other, took holy sacrament, or sang in choirs or engaged in other communal activites.

Churches who meet threshold of employees have been able to get government small business assistance to keep paid staff on the payroll. 

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany attacked journalists who questioned the proposal and wanted to know on what basis Trump was exerting federal power over governors' orders.

'Boy it's interesting to be in a room that desperately wants to see these churches and houses of worship stay closed,' she snapped.

That prompted Reuters' Jeff Mason to interject: 'I object to that. I go to church. I'm dying to go back to church. The question that we're asking you and would like to have asked the president and Dr. [Deborah] Birx is, is it safe? And if it's no safe, is the president trying to encourage or does the president agree with Dr. Birx that people should wait?'

'Jeff, it is safe to reopen your churches and you do so in accordance with the guidelines,' McEnany responded. 

She wouldn't respond when pressed to cite Trump's authority to override governor's stay-home orders. Trump 'wants to see all these churches open,' she said.

Trump forecast the announcement in Michigan Thursday where he was photographed in a mask for the first time

NYPD giving order to evacuate and close the synagogue because the Hasidic Jewish community is not respecting socio-distance. Trump also mentioned mosques and synagogues

The push comes as Trump has seen a drop in public approval. Hours before he announced the policy, he bashed Fox News for its polls, after one had him losing to Joe Biden by eight points nationally. 

Other polling has shown a drop in support for Trump among white Evangelicals, a traditional base of support, white mainline Protestants, and white Catholics. 

A source close to the campaign told pointed Politico to a Public Religion Research Institute survey that had Trump's favorability down by double-digits among all three groups.

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. 

The CDC had prepared guidance for churches and other institutions on reopening, but the release got delayed.

'I said, 'You better put it out.' And they're doing it,' Trump said Thursday in Michigan. 'And they're going to be issuing something today or tomorrow on churches. We've got to get our churches open.'

A church in Northern California that defied the governor's orders and held a service on Mother's Day was attended by a person who later tested positive for the coronavirus, exposing more than 180 churchgoers.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator for the White House's coronavirus task force, said that faith community leaders should be in touch with their local health departments and can take steps to mitigate risks, including making sure those who are at high risk of severe complications remain protected.

'There's a way for us to work together to have social distancing and safety for people so we decrease the amount of exposure that anyone would have to an asymptomatic,' she said.

White evangelical Christians have been among the most loyal members of the president's base, and the White House has been careful to attend to religious communities' concerns over the course of the crisis, including holding numerous conference calls with them.

A person familiar with the White House's thinking who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations said Trump had called the news conference, which had not been on his public schedule, because he wanted to be the face of church reopenings, knowing how well it would play with his base.

Churches around the country have filed legal challenges to the virus closures. In Minnesota, after Democratic Gov. Tim Walz this week declined to lift restrictions on churches, Roman Catholic and some Lutheran leaders said they would defy his ban and resume worship services. They called the restrictions unconstitutional and unfair since restaurants, malls and bars were allowed limited reopening.

The CDC more than a month ago sent the Trump administration documents the agency had drafted outlining specific steps various kinds of organizations could follow as they work to reopen safely.

The administration first shelved the documents but eventually released guidance for six other types of organizations, but not houses of worship. A Trump administration official had said there had been concerns about the propriety of the government interfering with the operation of places of worship.

Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, argued that 'protections against religious discrimination aren't suspended during an emergency.'

Two senior administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations, concerns about religious freedom had since been resolved.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo immediately balked at Trump's pressure and said she would keep her state on a timetable to reopen public worship May 30. 

We're not ready. Honestly, that would be reckless. It's Friday. They're not ready,' said Raimondo. So no, that's not happening in Rhode Island.'

Former New Jersey GOP Gov. Christie Todd Whitman tweeted in response: 'Would that I thought this had anything to do with the President's concern for the spiritual well being of Americans and not just satisfying his base.'

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Comment by mr1stroke on May 26, 2020 at 10:54am

Niggers accept and answer to what ever a white man calls them especially when it is a racist white slave master like Biden who have conditioned them to vote democrats so he can stay in power over 50 year, do you know how many noggers who already agreed with him before he apologise for saying if you dont vote for Trump you aint black, it sounds good coming from massa but they too stupid to realise what he is saying is that you are not smart to think for your self, you have the rights like every other Americans if you were born in this country you can make any political decisions you want it does not make you less american, but this white men knows how weak and stupid you are and many of you couldn't wait to repeat it but forgot there are those of us who are no longer living under the slave mentality and will call him out thats why he apologize just like when Hillary came to the station he never told them what she would do for black people except she had hot sauce on her bag and you niggers like that, do you see why you niggers continue to live like slaves because you were born to be slaves so do not categorise the rest of us like you just because of the complexion some of us or black away from the niggers

Comment by mr1stroke on May 26, 2020 at 10:36am

vaughn mitchell only dumb n***** like you live off excuses, you have never state something that is factual you are the dumbest n***** on here by far who claim he goes to the only black college, who claim he is so educated but have nothing to show for, when the last time you post something that can help the community since have been on here, from social to economical, dont you think its ashamed for someone so educated but have nothing to offer, all you do id come on here and hate on any one who think different from you and thats what noggers do. They know how to hate, destroy and against others, thats why i always respond to your comment to dhow the audience how dumb you are of a n*****, American Citizens mean all who are Americans only sn ignorant dummy would want to categorize himself, if i have to call African american why am i talking about Americans do a white man classify himself as white american when he speaks or just american, you dumb n***** wait you do black you should already know the answer now sit your old ass corona struggling n***** down

Comment by vaughn mitchell on May 25, 2020 at 11:57pm
I am a coconut b****. Since your ass is white . You stated American citizen, not African American citizen. Every twenty years white people have to vote on the civil rights bill, every twenty five years whites have to vote , voting rights act, that give African Americans the rights to vote, so essentially your still a slave , white people are free. African Americans , they can take away everything you own. If a white is jealous of your house, or business, they can plant drugs on you, make up a story, kill you for jogging, kill you while you have your hands up, and guess what you can't leave America, but us coconuts, can come to America, make our money invest it back to the islands which we come from and move back. Our voting rights will never be taken away, and no white man can come and take our business or land from us. Uncle Tom, Trump's, ass kisser, so call black man. I know more about your own African American history than you do and I am a coconut. Since you say your ass is from Bk, go up to a Jamaican, and call him a coconut and see what happen. B****.
Comment by mr1stroke on May 23, 2020 at 2:22pm

You are an illegal coconut n*****, this article is for american citizens not illegals, not shut up and die in the slums

Comment by Sufferahsmusic Media Prod on May 23, 2020 at 12:07pm
Who you calling nigher uncle damn fool ...
Comment by Sufferahsmusic Media Prod on May 23, 2020 at 12:06pm
Guess they're trying to break up the United staes
Comment by mr1stroke on May 23, 2020 at 12:18am

It prove to show how dumb niggers are and everybody knows it, on his interview this morning Biden said if any black person votes for Trump he aint black, but what do you call those noggers who vote for biden who enforced the crimes bill for decades that enslaves so many innocent blacks, how about the niggers who will vote for him but for 50 years he is done nothing about prison reform, police reform, justice reform, he call black people animals and predators and said they dont belong on the streets because he has hos wife and his mother walking those streets, you niggers never heard that i guess you chose not to listen to his hours long speech to congress to keep the crimes bill in place, but ot sounds good because niggers live like slaves and people like him know it, tell them what they want to hear and they will vote, damn slaves support biden and let see how your situation will change, so far he has yet tell you what he is going to do for you or how he will help you

Comment by mr1stroke on May 23, 2020 at 12:11am

The only president who have been showing concern about Christians he went after countries for ignoring the torture of christians around the world, you people praise your first responders everyday on your tv and radio not once you say first lets pray or thank God, the president says we need more prayer not less, if you can open abortion clinics why not open the churches as essential, he said he will override the governors decisions, they want to open beaches and other businesses but not the churches, so he is so bad i guess you people have done no wrong, since ypir politicians are so good let them catch the first stone and if they have been so good why are you still complaining about the same old things, i do not follow the crowd i make up my own mind according what works for me and those around me

Comment by pgriff on May 23, 2020 at 12:07am


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