Trump Floats Hail Mary Threat About Reopening Churches

Via NBC News (5/22/20)

During an impromptu press conference on Friday, President Trump threatened to do a thing that he absolutely does not have the authority to do. From NBC News:

“The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important, essential places of faith to open right now, for this weekend,” he said. “If they don’t do it, I will override the governors. In America, we need more prayer, not less.”

Trump did not say what legal authority he had to force governors, who maintain the power to order establishments to remain closed during public health emergencies in their own states, to make such a move if they disagreed. [Pols emphasis]

CNN (5/22/20)

It’s been interesting to watch news outlets pushing back so quickly and forcefully on Trump’s Friday threats.

From National Review:

All of this stuff about the governors’ having to call him to get permission is made up, and there’s nothing he has the power to make happen this weekend.

As The Associated Press reports, governors aren’t listening, either:

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said she was sticking to her timetable to allow worship services to resume May 30. She said houses of worship won’t be ready before then.

“We’re not ready. Honestly, that would be reckless. It’s Friday. They’re not ready,” said Raimondo, who added that congregations need to time to figure out distancing and cleaning procedures. “So no, that’s not happening in Rhode Island.” (5/22/20)

If Trump really believes he can order states to allow churches to reopen this weekend…he’s about the only person who does. From

Notably, when reporters asked White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany to identify which provision of federal law permits the president to override a governor’s public health order, McEnany did not do so. Instead, her answer —”the president will strongly encourage every governor to allow churches to reopen” — appeared to concede that Trump only has the power to try to persuade governors to change their policies. [Pols emphasis]

POLITICO (5/22/20)

The next obvious question about Trump’s unexpected rant is, “Why?” As POLITICO reports, Trump may be panicking over bad poll numbers with conservative Christian voters:

The anxiety over Trump’s standing with the Christian right surfaced after a pair of surveys by reputable outfits earlier this month found waning confidence in the administration’s coronavirus response among key religious groups, with a staggering decline in the president’s favorability among white evangelicals and white Catholics. [Pols emphasis] Both are crucial constituencies that supported Trump by wide margins in 2016 and could sink his reelection prospects if their turnout shrinks this fall.

The polls paint a bleak picture for Trump, who has counted on broadening his religious support by at least a few percentage points to compensate for weakened appeal with women and suburban populations. One GOP official said the dip in the president’s evangelical support also appeared in internal party polling, but disputed the notion that it had caused panic. Another person close to the campaign described an April survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, which showed a double-digit decline in Trump’s favorability among white evangelicals (-11), white Catholics (-12) and white mainline protestants (-18) from the previous month, as “pretty concerning.

Here in Colorado, places of worship have been open for a few weeks, so Trump won’t have to pretend to order Gov. Jared Polis to do anything new.

13 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Bright Bart says:

    He's the president and can do whatever he thinks is right

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      Hmmm . . .

      . . . probably not . . . 

      . . . but, maybe, I dunno’. . .

      . . . we could test that, let me know if he ever once starts thinking?

    • Duke Cox says:

      Sorry, Bart. That is not a president….that is an emperor. We don't have one of those….last time I checked the Constitution, I didn't see it.

    • Genghis says:

      My oh my, what a breathtakingly stupid comment.

    • MichaelBowman says:

      Clearly, Dim Bulb.  Like when he paid off a porn star and his lawyer went to prison? Because it was the right thing to do?  

      Let’s hear from someone a little more schooled on ‘church’? 


      Priest: Mr. President, we don’t need to open churches to practice our faith

      What most of us have not done is put ourselves and our parishioners in danger by gathering in large groups for Mass or other religious services “as usual.” That would have been — and would continue to be, in this time of contagion — irresponsible and sinful. It would also violate the right to life of many. Yes, responsible action with regard to religious organizations during this pandemic is a right-to-life issue. This is a right that needs to apply to those who live after birth, too.

  2. MADCO says:

    If the president was going to "force" the churches, temples and mosques open – wouldn't he have to use the National Guard? You know, nationalize the guard to force doors open and such?

    Would this mean that attendees would be free to open or conceal carry?


  3. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    On MSNBC last night, Rachel Maddow had some good reporting tracing a number of recent infection outbreaks to churches that have reopened, either legally or clandestinely.

  4. JohnInDenver says:

    Going to be interesting to read about churches that DO open up.  I'm sorta wondering about their attendance — in person versus virtual.   

    With all of the information about transmission by droplets, I'm also wondering just how much singing there will be. CDC has one cautionary tale from Skagit County, WashingtonCDC described it this way: " Following a 2.5-hour choir practice attended by 61 persons, including a symptomatic index patient, 32 confirmed and 20 probable secondary COVID-19 cases occurred (attack rate = 53.3% to 86.7%); three patients were hospitalized, and two died."

  5. davebarnes says:

    Open church for Easter services. What could go wrong?

  6. JohnInDenver says:

    And since churches are SO important, I'm certain Trump would wish to attend one. 

    He attended the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia — perhaps there were religious thoughts and prayers:

    After church one Sunday, one of the congregants walked up to the priest and said, "Father, is it a sin to play golf on Sunday?

    "My son," said the priest, putting his hand on the man's shoulder, "I've seen you play golf. It's a sin any day."

Leave a Reply

Comment from your Facebook account

You may comment with your Colorado Pols account above (click here to register), or via Facebook below.