A large portion of President Donald Trump's base is willing to take the risk of exacerbating the pandemic that's killed over 95 thousand Americans for a premature return to normal. An even more reliable percentage of Trump's base is white evangelical Christian.
So it may not come as a surprise that on Friday, the President demanded that governors allow their states' churches to reopen. While all Americans are hungry to regain a sense of community, these large gatherings—like religious services—present a high risk factor for spreading the virus, potentially causing a resurgence.
The President said:
"At my direction, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is issuing guidance for communities of faith...Today, I'm identifying house of worship—churches, synagogues, and mosques—as essential places that provide essential services. Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics are essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It's not right...I call upon governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now."
Trump stressed that while governors were welcome to call him and question the order, they wouldn't be successful. He also mentioned that the CDC would be issuing guidance for reopening.
Interestingly enough, the CDC released a report that a church service in Arkansas with only 92 attendees saw deadly results from reopening—only three hours before Trump called on governors to immediately reopen churches.
The CDC guidelines for reopening read, in part:
"Faith-based organizations should work with local health officials to determine how to implement the U.S. government guidelines for modifying activities during the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent transmission of the virus to their members and their communities."
The timing of the report and Trump's announcement indicated further ineptitude from Trump.
What's more, religious services haven't been outlawed. Though many governors are temporarily imposing a pause on group services to avoid outcomes like the one in Arkansas, churches across the country are having virtual services and drive in services.
The President's motivations for the announcement were clear.