US President Donald Trump has reportedly announced at the White House on Friday that he would classify churches and other houses of worship as essential services.
Trump added that he would “override” governors who don’t open up their houses of worship for in-person services, though he may likely not have the authority to do so because of the American Constitution’s 10th Amendment, which delegates all powers not explicitly delegated to the federal government in the Constitution to its constituent states.
“I call upon governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now,” Trump 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.”
“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 to happen to them or to anybody else.”
“The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important, essential places of faith to open right now.”
He added, “If they don’t do it, I will override the governors.”
Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, has dismissed reporters’ questions about the legality behind forcing governors to reopen places of worship as a “hypothetical.”
“You’re assuming that governors are going to keep churches shut down, keep mosques shut down, keep synagogues shut down – that is a hypothetical question, and we’ll leave it to faith communities to reopen,” McEnany said. “We can all hope that this Sunday people are allowed to pray to their gods across this country.”
McEnany continued to say that it was safe to reopen places of worship as long as the new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention were followed.
On Wednesday, according to The Washington Post, The White House rejected the CDC’s draft guidelines for reopening places of worship, as some officials found them too restrictive and others didn’t want to release any guidance.
The rejected draft CDC guidance reportedly recommended that places of worship temporarily stop using shared materials including prayer books, hymnals, and collection trays for donations. It also suggested not having musical groups perform.