Churches Rebuke Trump’s Re-Opening Demand Like Real Christians

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At a heated press conference on Friday, President Donald Trump demanded that governors across the nation allow churches and other houses of worship to reopen immediately, no matter the potential public health problem of the continually spreading Coronavirus, which could spread widely in large community gatherings like church. Speaking shortly after the president, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany suggested that Americans had been barred from praying to their God — although most religions allow for prayer wherever adherents actually are — but despite the administration’s melodrama, a group of Catholic bishops in Washington state have now insisted that they will be waiting to reopen until it’s assuredly safe to do so.

On Friday, bishops serving Catholic congregations across Washington state wrote, addressing the public:

‘We want to let you know the public celebration of Mass was suspended, not out of fear, but out of our deepest respect for human life and health. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to be instruments of God’s protection for the vulnerable and public common good. Our love of God and neighbor is always personal and not partisan. While we share the desire to bring people back to Mass as quickly as possible, we will wait to schedule our public worship when it is safe and prepared to do so.’

Although they noted that they are working with the office of Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) in the development of plans for reopening their churches, the bishops also noted that at this time, there is no date set for that reopening. Check out their statement below:

In his original comments, Trump had threatened to “override” governors if they did not allow churches to reopen right away, although the president has no authority to “override” state authorities on this matter.

Still, he ranted:

‘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 am correcting this injustice and am calling houses of worship essential. I call upon governors to allow churches and places of worship to open right now.’

In fact, there was never any sort of conspiracy against churches or other houses of worship. The idea that religious people were specifically singled out for restrictions amidst the pandemic has no relationship to reality. The U.S. will soon hit 100,000 total deaths due to the Coronavirus — the urgent need for public health protections is obvious.

Washington state Catholic leaders are not the first who’ve had to step in to bring the conversation back towards public health amidst the president’s rants. This week, North Dakota’s Republican Governor Doug Burgum delivered what one observer noted was a “tearful speech” imploring state residents to take the need for face masks seriously. Burgum noted that “if somebody is wearing a mask, they’re not doing it to represent what political party they’re in or what candidates they support,” although that sort of politicization of basic public health is exactly what Trump has pushed.