“The churches are not being treated with respect by a lot of the Democrat governors,” he said. “I want to get our churches open, and we’re going to take a very strong position on that very soon.”
As reported by The Washington Post, White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere addressed Trump’s comments and plans for reopening places of worship.
“Not only is it good for the community, it’s their right under the Constitution to worship freely without government intrusion,” Deere said.
“The Trump administration will always protect that right and continue to partner with states to ensure congregations are properly protected as restrictions are responsibly eased.”
NBC News wrote that the White House is in the process of creating guidelines for reopening places of worship and will release them within the next seven to 10 days. The instructions, which were allegedly delayed due to the White House’s clash with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will include recommendations such as social distancing, wearing gloves while providing Holy Communion, and utilizing virtual services when necessary.
According to a White House official, the initial CDC guidelines were “more draconian and less optimistic” than the Trump administration desired.
“The guidance as drafted tilted toward not opening places of worship,” the official said, also noting that similar guidelines are not in place for restaurants, transit systems, and schools.
Tara Smith, a professor of epidemiology at Kent State University who is helping a Cleveland-area church reopen, highlighted that church attendees tend to be older than the general population, which is a factor that increases vulnerability to coronavirus. For this reason, she warned that the absence of reopening guidelines puts older adults at risk.
Pew Research Center wrote last fall that approximately one-third of Americans attend religious services at least once per week. The lack of facilities has sparked conflict and resistance to lockdown procedures in some areas of the country. In Virginia, a church issued a lawsuit against state authorities for limiting its number of worshippers to 10 and suggested that lockdown measures could be religious discrimination.
Nevertheless, the nature of church congregations puts worshippers at risk of contracting coronavirus. Multiple pastors around the world have died from contracting the virus, including Frankline Ndifor, who the Daily Mail reported claimed he could cure the disease with his hands. The 39-year-old reportedly died after battling the infection at his home for a week.