Speaking from the White House Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump announced houses of worship have been classified as essential services by the federal government.
"At my direction the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is issuing guidance for communities of faith," Trump said. "Today I am identifying houses of worship, churches, synagogues and mosques as essential places that provide essential services. 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. 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. 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 and synagogues, go to their mosque. Many millions of Americans embrace worship as an essential part of life. The ministers, pastors, rabbis, imams and other faith leaders will make sure their congregations are safe as they gather and pray. 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," he continued. "The governors 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 we need more prayers, not less."
A number of Democratic governors around the country have continually limited and cracked down on religious services, even while congregations practiced social distancing. Some pastors have been told their rights have been "suspended" under stay-at-home orders.
Throughout the course of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, Attorney General Bill Barr has filed a number of legal suits against local governors infringing upon religious liberty.