“Donald Trump said he will designate churches and other houses of worship as essential services in a Friday announcement at the White House.
“Trump added that he would ‘override’ governors who don't open up their houses of worship for in-person services, although he likely does not have the authority to do so because of the 10th amendment to the Constitution, which delegates all powers not explicitly designated to the federal government in the Constitution to the states.
“‘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,’ Trump said. ‘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.’
“Trump argued that businesses like liquor stores, medical services and abortion clinics shouldn't have been reopened before religious institutions. ‘Ministers, pastors, rabbis, and imams and other faith leaders will make sure their congregations are safe as they gather and pray.... They love their congregations, they love their people, they don't want anything bad to happen to them or to anyone else,’ Trump said. ‘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.’ White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany dismissed reporters' questions about the legality of 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 re-open,’ McEnany said following Trump's announcement in the White House briefing room. ‘We can all hope that this Sunday, people are allowed to pray to their gods across this country.’ McEnany went on to say that it is ‘safe’ to reopen house of worship, as long as they follow the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
“This comes after the White House rejected the CDC's original guidelines for reopening places of worship, which some officials reportedly believed were too restrictive. Others, including in Vice President Mike Pence's office and in the Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council, didn't want to issue any reopening guidance for religious institutions.
“The rejected draft CDC guidance recommended that houses of worship temporarily stop sharing worship materials, including prayer books and hymnals, halting the use of collection trays for donations, and potentially stop musical groups from performing” (Business Insider).