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Faith Leaders Hail Trump Order to Reopen Churches

Faith Leaders Hail Trump Order to Reopen Churches

President Donald Trump gestures while speaking during a "Rolling to Remember Ceremony," to honor the nation's veterans and POW/MIA, from the Truman Balcony of the White House on Friday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

By    |   Friday, 22 May 2020 07:16 PM EDT

Faith leaders are singing Hallelujah.

President Donald Trump’s announcement Friday that he was declaring churches essential during the coronavirus pandemic — ordering them to “open right now” — was an answer to religious leaders’ prayers.

Jentezen Franklin, the senior pastor of megachurch Free Chapel in Gainseville, Ga., hailed the president for his decision, tweeting, “you always have the back of people of Faith.”

“We appreciate this very much. We will use wisdom about reopening but it’s our call not the governments!!!!” he tweeted.

Samuel Rodriguez, an evangelical pastor and president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, also praised the move.

“Churches are essential,” he tweeted. “The spiritual health of our nation is essential.  Churches can reopen safely with all CDC recommendations in place. Thank you POTUS for federally recognizing this truth.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines encourage houses of worship to address issues such as social distancing and to think about alternatives to common practices amid the pandemic. They also encourage an increase in cleaning, healthy hygiene and readiness to to close again, at least temporarily, if a member test positive for COVID-19.

With three campuses and more than 40,000 members, Prestonwood Baptist Church in North Texas is already preparing for reopening its sanctuary for services.

“I didn’t want to come back looking like a MASH unit,” Jack Graham, senior pastor of Prestonwood, told Faithwire. “When people come back, we want it to be a Prestonwood experience, a true worship experience.”

Greg Laurie, author and senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship with campuses in California and Hawaii, posted a simple, “Thank you, Mr. President.”

The Rev. Johnniue Moore, an evangelical leader and businessman who is a current commissioner for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, declared "Fact: Virtually every church, synagogue & mosque, etc. has been totally responsible.” 

“& WILL BE responsible, deliberate & patient in reopening. But, many couldn’t. Now, they can — at the right time,” he added in the Twitter post. “Thanks @POTUS for putting Governors on notice. Faith is an essential service.”

Pastor Garth Gittens of Calvary Baptist Church in West Philadelphia lost several members to COVID-19, and told an ABC affiliate,"We closed because of a safety issue. For us it's more personal than political."

"We are definitely going to be prayerful, so when God opens this it will be well done," he said.

In a Facebook conversation about bans on in-person worship services, Asma Uddin, a lawyer and scholar on U.S. and international religious freedom, said lawsuits filed against the closing of churches illustrates the inequity.

"Religious freedom is absolutely important," she said, adding restrictions can be made if there's a "compelling interest — and a global pandemic is certainly a compelling interest."

"But religious freedom is also a constitutional right," she said.

"If beer is essential, so is church," she said, referring to a California order keeping liquor stores open but closing church gatherings.

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Faith leaders are singing Hallelujah.
churches, coronavirus, reopening, trump
Friday, 22 May 2020 07:16 PM
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