WASHINGTON—President Trump today ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to classify houses of worship, churches, synagogues and mosques as “essential places that provide essential services.” Heritage Foundation President Kay C. James, chairman of the National Coronavirus Recovery Commission, released the following statement:
President Trump’s recognition of the essential role that churches, synagogues, and mosques play in American society is consistent with our Constitution and our history. Government authorities that treat similarly situated religious activities worse than secular activities create a special burden on the free exercise of religion and foster prejudice and hostility.
Americans have always relied on faith, particularly in times of crisis. Religious communities and organizations have been on the frontlines of providing medical, material, and spiritual support to Americans during COVID-19. While practicing public health guidelines, they should be able to safely open their doors on the same terms and conditions as many places of retail and recreation have.