White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Wednesday there is an “absolute double standard” because churches across the country are still facing coronavirus restrictions preventing them from holding services, while demonstrators have been able to pack together in large protests with little social distancing. “There are absolutely double standards that we’ve seen,” McEnany said. She added: “People should be allowed to worship. We have a First Amendment in this country. There’s a way to safely do it.” The press secretary pointed to a task force set up by the Justice Department to look at civil liberties during coronavirus shutdowns. McEnany said President Trump “absolutely sees an issue” with double standards, adding that there had been cases where people worshipping from their cars had been targeted by law enforcement officers. When asked about Trump’s outcries against mail-in voting in the November election, McEnany responded: “I think there’s a safe way to vote if there’s a safe way to protest.” Regarding a possible spike in coronavirus cases following the widespread protests, McEnany said “we’re monitoring that,” but added that the White House was pleased with the month-over-month decline in daily new cases. She said that in April, the U.S. saw an average of 30,000 daily new cases; 25,000 daily new cases in May, and was currently on track to see 20,000 new cases daily in June. Still, McEnany said the president was happy with the progress of houses of worship reopening after he announced a policy deeming them “essential” in May. “Here we are four weeks later and we haven’t been hearing about rampant outbreaks in places of worship,” the press secretary said. “The First Amendment is a beautiful thing. People have the right to go to church or mosque or synagogue.” In places both hard-hit by coronavirus and facing demonstrations that attract tens of thousands — such as California, New York and New Jersey — church doors were long-shuttered but have recently reopened at 25 percent capacity. Trump slammed Democratic governors who refused to allow churches to reopen. Trump announced during a press briefing that houses of worship are allowed to open Memorial Day weekend: “If they don’t do it, I will override the governors.” “The churches are not being treated with respect by a lot of the Democrat governors,” Trump told reporters on the White House lawn. “I want to get the churches open, and we’re going to take a very strong position on that very soon … including mosques.” “Churches, to me, they’re so important in terms of the psyche of our country,” he said. “I think churches are essential.” The Justice Department (DOJ) has rebuked a number of states for cracking down on churches during the coronavirus pandemic. The DOJ sided with a Virginia church suing Gov. Ralph Northam after police threatened a pastor with jail time or a $2,500 fine for violating lockdown restrictions by holding a service on Palm Sunday. U.S. Attorney General William Barr made it clear in April that federal prosecutors should “be on the lookout” for overly restrictive state and local shutdown orders that may infringe on people’s constitutional rights — especially when it comes to the First Amendment. The DOJ also supported Kevin Wilson, the pastor of Lighthouse Fellowship Church on Chincoteague Island, who held a service on April 5 with 16 people in a church that could fit 293 people. He was later served a summons by police.
..which, of course, is unconstitutional and ridiculous. We applaud President Trump sticking up for the First Amendment and religious liberty, and we applaud Kayleigh exposing the hypocrisy of these Democrat governors and politicians who want to keep churches closed under the false pretense of guarding against the Wuhan virus…and yet, they’re the first to violate their own directives and march elbow-to-elbow (so much for “social distancing”) and without wearing face masks as they protest. The “double standard” and hypocrisy is beyond brazen. If the mobs can “protest” without any regard for social distancing or wearing masks, then churches should at the very least be allowed to reopen while respecting what those mobs don’t.
President Trump on Friday announced that new Centers for Disease Control guidance will classify houses of worship as “essential,” as he called on governors to allow them to open “right now” after being closed during the coronavirus lockdowns. Trump announced the policy for churches, synagogues and mosques, during a short briefing at the White House. “The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now–for this weekend,” Trump said. “If they don’t do it, I will override the governors.” “In America, we need more prayer not less,” Trump added. It’s unclear under what authority Trump has to override governors. But Trump took issue with certain businesses being open, while churches are not. Attorney General William Barr already warned last month that coronavirus restrictions by state and local government should be applied evenly and not single out religious organizations. “Some governors have deemed the liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential,” Trump said. “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.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released interim guidelines Friday for communities of faith that acknowledge “millions of Americans embrace worship as an essential part of life” but also warn that “gatherings present a risk for increasing the spread of COVID-19.” The guidelines encourage the use of cloth face coverings during services, limiting the size of gatherings, social distancing during services and suspending or decreasing choirs and singing in church since “singing may contribute to transmission of COVID-19, possibly through emission of aerosols,” the CDC says. Last week the CDC released new guidelines that schools, businesses and other organizations can use as states reopen from coronavirus shutdowns. The document, however, excluded guidance for churches and faith-based groups because the White House raised concerns about the recommended restrictions, the Associated Press reported. Cities across the country have been taking their cues from their governors on when and how to reopen. New York Gov. Cuomo’s executive order still remains in effect in hard-hit New York City, officials said Friday. “Houses of worship never closed in New York City, but have been under reasonable capacity requirements that prohibit large gatherings,” said Olivia Lapeyrolerie, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s deputy press secretary. “We will continue to work closely with faith leaders to ensure people can safely worship during these stressful times, but will not take any steps that could jeopardize New Yorkers’ health.” The White House’s Friday announcement comes after Trump has been hearing an earful from faith leaders who are unable to hold services due to coronavirus restrictions at a time when their parishioners are grappling with the crisis. Families may be grieving the loss of loved ones from the virus or struggling with job losses but unable to seek respite in their places of worship. On Thursday, Trump had a conference call with 1,600 pastors and faith leaders from around the country, including Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. He reassured them he wants to get churches reopened. The evangelical Christian community was instrumental in supporting Trump during his 2016 White House bid and he’s maintained strong ties with Christian leaders throughout his presidency. Trump telegraphed the decision a day earlier when he announced he spoke to the CDC on finding ways to reopen houses of worship during the pandemic. “We’ve got to get our churches open,” Trump said Thursday. Churches across the country had to close down due to stay-home orders necessary to stop the spread of the contagious virus. Faith leaders set up online services and families tuned in Sunday mornings from their computers at home. Earlier in the pandemic, Trump expressed optimism that churches would be opened by Easter Sunday, April 12. But April turned out to be an extremely deadly month for the pandemic, and parishioners had to celebrate Easter from home. Some faith leaders have argued that social distancing rules have violated First Amendment religious freedoms. Others have defied state and local rules and tried to reopen. “The discrimination that has been occurring against churches and houses of worship has been shocking,” said Kelly Shackelford, president of the First Liberty Institute, a legal organization dedicated to defending religious freedom. “We applaud the President’s strong stance today demanding that these attacks must stop and that churches and houses of worship be freed to safely open. Americans are going to malls and restaurants. They need to be able to go to their houses of worship.”
Agreed.. If you can go to your grocery store, Walmart, Target and heck…your “essential” pot store (here in Colorado, mamajuana dispensaries have been classified as “essential,” if you can believe that) and so on…then there is ZERO reason why you shouldn’t be able to go to your church. You can socially distance yourself, much like the White House press corps does every day…and you can require those to wear face masks and so on.. But, to tell pastors and preachers they can’t open their church or they’ll face fines or imprisonment, is the very definition of fascism. We have a 1st Amendment to protect such freedoms. Major kudos to President Trump for taking this strong position. To see a video of the President making this announcement earlier today, click on the text above. Outstanding!! 🙂