Trump deems houses of worship ‘essential’ amid pandemic and threatens to override governors


President Donald Trump announced Friday that his administration is issuing guidance deeming places of worship “essential” operations during the coronavirus pandemic, threatening to “override” governors if their states did not follow the new federal recommendations.

“Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics essential, but have left our churches and houses of worship. It’s not right. So I’m correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential,” Trump said during his announcement at the White House.

The President said that at his direction, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will provide the guidance.

Trump said he was calling upon governors to “allow 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 added.

“The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now, this weekend. If they don’t do it, I will override the governors,” he continued.

A senior administration official told CNN that the guidance had been initially delayed because some officials believed the proposals were too detailed and would be impossible for churches and others to achieve. There was also talk of putting out no guidance at all on religious services, but Trump had conversations with CDC officials and urged them to issue something.

The White House coronavirus task force finalized the guidance during a meeting on Thursday, the source said.

The President referred to the conversations with CDC officials on Thursday, telling participants and the press at a listening session with African Americans, “I said, ‘You better put it out.’ ”

“I spoke to CDC today about churches. We’ve got to get our churches open. We’ve got to get our country open,” he said.