Trump rules churches 'essential,' says they can reopen this weekend

A nun prays during the broadcast and recording of Palm Sunday mass at a Catholic church in Ankeny Iowa the United States with the pews empty because of the coronavirus pandemic

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President Trump on Friday said state governors should allow churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship to immediately reopen.

This comes as faith leaders in various states, including California, are planning to reopen their churches in defiance of lockdown restrictions.

This isn't the first time Trump has pushed for houses of worship to reopen ahead of a holiday weekend.

Establishing what constitutes essential services has been a prerogative of state and local officials, rather than the federal government, and many have restricted houses of worship from holding group services to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

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"It's not right" that some governors have declared liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential but have left out churches and other houses of worship, according to the president, calling it an "injustice".

"I call upon governors to allow churches and places of worship to open right now", he said. As part of a feud with the former chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings, Trump has in the past criticized "tremendous corruption" in the city's leadership, called it "drug-infested" and said its people "are living in hell".

President Trump then slammed governors by saying, "If there's any question, they're going to have to call me, but they're not going to be successful in that call".

He added: "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 said. "It sends a bad, bad message to the citizens of Baltimore because I'm asking them to stay home and only come out for essential reasons", Baltimore Mayor Bernard "Jack" Young told CNN's "Inside Politics" on Friday. They love their congregations.

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As a result, the CDC warns faith organizations to be aware of the risk of high transmission rates if they choose to begin gathering in-person.

Trump directed the CDC to issue guidance for faith communities to reopen for services ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.

He did not take questions.

Alyana Alfaro, a spokeswoman for Murphy, said shortly after Trump's announcement that "the governor's orders will remain in effect". "It's very important that we protect that". His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

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