Two announcements issued Friday sent different messages about reopening houses of worship.
President Donald Trump said he’s ordering states to consider all houses of worship as essential businesses and allow them to reopen immediately. Less than two hours later, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he’s just days away from announcing guidelines for reopening churches, synagogues and mosques.
“If they don’t do it, I will override the governors,” Trump said.
It was unclear what authority he has to do so.
Newsom said new state reopening guidelines were coming as early as Monday.
“And I want folks to know we are working to move those guidelines forward,” he said.
Bishop Bob Jackson, the pastor for Oakland’s Acts Full Gospel Church, helped lead a rally last week and said he planned to hold services on May 31 for Pentecost Sunday. He is one of 1,200 pastors statewide who have vowed to reopen that day.
“If this controversy between the president and the governor is resolved and we’re able to go back into the sanctuary, which we would prefer, then that’s what we’ll do,” he said. “If not, we will be having service in the parking lot.”
Dr. Donna White Carey, who publicly fought churches reopening early, said since Alameda County’s public health department OK’d car-based celebrations, she’s fine with outdoor church gatherings.
“Allows people to be together but in a social distanced way and allows them to attend church, so I think it is a great compromise,” she said.
Some other religious groups, including the Diocese of San Jose, have said they will follow the state and county guidelines. But with so many independent churches, synagogues and mosques, it’s hard to tell how many may just go by what they heard Trump say.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.