President Donald Trump said Friday that places of worship are “essential” and should open this weekend, threatening to override governors who have ordered churches, synagogues and mosques not to reopen in the coming days.
“Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It’s not right,” Trump said during impromptu remarks to reporters. “So I’m correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential. I call upon governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now.”
“The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important, essential places of faith to open right now, for this weekend,” he said. “If they don’t do it, I will override the governors. In America, we need more prayer, not less.”
Trump emphasized he was instructing governors to allow places of worship to resume operations “right now,” and warned that “if there’s any question, they’re going to have to call me — but they are not going to be successful in that call.”
Trump appeared in the briefing room to read a short statement announcing he has approved guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help state and local leaders safely allow worship facilities to open back up.
Earlier on Friday Trump spoke more on the subject.
“We want our churches and our places of faith and worship, we want them to open,” he said. “But they’re going to be opening up very soon. We want our churches open, we want our places of faith, synagogues, we want them open, and that’s going to start happening.”
“I consider them essential, and that’s one of the things we’re saying. We’re going to make that essential,” Mr Trump said. “You know, they have places [deemed] essential that aren’t essential. And they open, and yet the churches aren’t allowed to open, and the synagogues. And again, places of faith, mosques, places of faith.”
A large chunk of Mr Trump’s political base is very religious. In the 2016 election, Trump notably took 75 per cent of the white evangelical vote and has invited pastors and preachers during his tenure to lead prayer sessions at the White House.