Today, Trump held a briefing where he named churches, synagogues and mosques as essential and that places of worship must be allowed to reopen. If they are not allowed to re-open, Trump warned, he would override the governors.
It is unclear what Trump means by “override” the governors. Will he have the National Guard protect worshipers as they enter the buildings? Will he cut off funding to states with closed churches? No one quite understands what Trump plans to do if the churches do not re-open. It is believed that Congress might possibly be able to force states to open churches through legislation, but that is unlikely.
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.Vox
Places of worship have been closed in an attempt to stop the spread of Covid-19. Many local outbreaks have been associated with church gatherings. It is not just parishioners that are being exposed to Covid-19, but the clergy are especially at risk.
The Church of God in Christ has reported that as many as 30 of their bishops and pastors have died of Covid-19. As early as March 25th, the Roman Catholic Church had reported they had already lost 50 priests to the coronavirus pandemic. By April 15th, the Church admitted that 109 priests had died in Italy alone.
The Diocese of Bergamo alone lost 24 priests in 20 days. About half the priests were retired, half still active. Those who are still alive and ministering to the sick, the Times reported, ”complain they cannot get closer, that the last touch the faithful feel is a gloved one, that the last face they see is often on [the screen of a cell phone]. With a virus that separates families and spouses as it kills, priests said that they were also pained to be distanced from their flock when they were needed most.”
Fr. Enrico Bernuzzi, 46, of the Diocese of Tortona, who died at dawn on Easter Monday. A priest since 2006, he was the second youngest priest in Italy to die from the infection: Fr. Alessandro Brignone of the diocese of Salerno-Campagna-Acerno, who died on March 19, was one year younger.Aleteia
More than 20 ministers and priests from various denominations have died in the New York area, but other regions in the United States have not been spared. Although the CDC has warned that church services can become ‘super-spreader’ events, many denominations and individuals remain defiant.
Florida Pentecostal pastor Rodney Howard-Browne held several services in packed churches despite warnings from health officials and doctors to avoid large gatherings to prevent spreading the disease, which he called a “phantom plague” before his arrest for violating social distancing rules.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said that the pastor’s “reckless disregard for human life put hundreds of people in his congregation at risk” along with thousands of Florida residents.Independent
Many parishioners and clergy have treated the situation as though it is a a test of faith to resist the lockdown order.
Bishop Gerald Glenn of the New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Virginia defied the lockdown claiming that he was essential and that he talked to God. Bishop Glenn died from Covid-19 in April after telling his flock to ignore physical distancing orders.
Many churchgoers are adamant that it is safe for them to attend church services and that they will continue to do so.
Most churches seem to be cooperating with physical distancing measures and have altered their services to keep parishioners safe. This includes broadcasting services online, and providing last last rites and counselling over the phone. There is even a dial-a-priest program designed to give comfort to people affected by Covid-19, but have no regular church connections.
Although defiant churchgoers have made a great deal of noise, it is only 17% of Christians that are defying the lockdown to attend services, with evangelicals most likely to be the ones that are defying community quarantine orders.
These are the nice people. Not all people who claim to walk with Jesus are nice.
Some less scrupulous members of the clergy have been asking their parishioners to donate their federal stimulus checks to their churches. This includes Reverend Tony Spell who asks for stimulus checks to be donated to his website.
Several other prominent evangelical leaders and televangelists on the Christian right, who rely on miraculous healing in their ministries, have also attempted to capitalise on the crisis.
Kenneth Copeland urged viewers to pay tithes despite losing their jobs amid unprecedented unemployment claims. Jim Bakker pleaded to viewers to donate to his ministry to avoid filing for bankruptcy after he was cut off from credit card processing companies for selling a fake coronavirus “cure” for $80.Independent
Hopefully, few will be fooled by this conjob by America’s favorite televangelists:
If you thought Kenneth Copeland was unhinged, you are going to be extremely impressed by this asshole. He used to sell Christian timeshares, but now he is selling dehydrated apocalypse supplies and coronavirus cures. It’s heavily edited, but its a true work of art.
We have to wonder. Is Trump watching late night televangelists? Is he covered by the blood of Jesus? Is that why he doesn’t need a mask? Here is Trump’s White House spiritual advisor:
Here they are. Washing Trump with the blood of Jesus and telling him that only God raises up kings.