Dear President Trump,
Your pronouncement that houses of worship are “essential” and that governors across the nation should allow them to reopen was both irresponsible and potentially destructive.
Your message, which lacked specific guidance, threatens to confuse thousands of faith leaders who have been trying carefully to follow the public health messages from local government leaders, scientists and epidemiologists over the past several weeks. It puts church members, local communities and our ability to be a faithful witness at serious risk.
Some states already have been working with houses of worship on following guidelines for carefully reopening, but many will interpret your call as a signal that it is safe for churches nationwide to reopen.
Friday’s news conference could put a strain on pastors because parishioners might pressure them into making hasty decisions. And it threatens to divide congregations who have different opinions about when and how to reopen.
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