President Trump is calling for governors across the country to allow houses of worship to reopen as several other businesses and facilities have reopened.
Many governors are observing respective plans that are reopening their states in stages or parts. For most of these states exhibiting part one or the first stage, churches are not allowed to resume their operations.
“At my direction, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is issuing guidance for communities of faith,” Trump told a group of reporters via the Daily Wire. “I’m identifying houses of worship — churches, synagogues and mosques — as essential places that provide essential services.”
Trump argued it did not make sense for governors to unfairly restrict religious institutions while allowing so many other businesses and organizations to reopen.
“Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship — that’s not right,” the president argued. “So I’m correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential.”
“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” Trump continued.
He added: “The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important, essential places of faith to open right now, or this weekend. If they don’t do it, I will override the governors.”
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany echoed the president’s comments on Friday.
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“The president will strongly encourage every governor to allow their churches to reopen, and boy, it’s interesting to be in a room that desperately wants to seem to see these churches and houses of worship stay closed,” McEnany said per the Daily Wire.
According to the report, the Justice Department has already submitted a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom where it warned him not to unfairly penalize religious institutions.
“Laws that do not treat religious activities equally with comparable nonreligious activities are subject to heightened scrutiny under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment,” the letter read. “Laws that are not both neutral toward religion and generally applicable are invalid unless the government can prove that they further a compelling interest and are pursued through the least restrictive means possible.”
It continued: “The Public Health Officer’s April 28 ‘essential workforce’ list does not appear to treat religious activities and comparable nonreligious activities the same. The list includes ‘faith-based services’ but only if ‘provided through streaming or other technologies.’ In-person religious services are thus apparently prohibited even if they adhere to social distancing standards.”