All houses of worship, including mosques, will reopen immediately following President Trump's directive.
In a press conference from the White House on Friday, May 22, 2020, US President Donald Trump demanded that houses of worship, including churches, synagogues, and mosques reopen “right now.”
Social media users posted about the directive. But does President Trump have the authority to order houses of worship to reopen? Misbar invetigates.
President Trump’s demand that houses of worship reopen immediately has been met with mixed responses. In a press conference, he called houses of worship “essential places that provide essential services.” He further compared religious facilities to abortion clinics, which are considered essential, calling that designation “not right.”
Trump claimed he would overrule any states that do not open houses of worship. He said, “The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important, essential places of faith to open right now for this weekend. If they don’t do it, I will override the governors. In America, we need more prayer, not less.”
However, he does not have the power as president to overrule state directives. The New York Times said that legal experts state Trump does not have that authority.
Legal authority Harold Hongju Koh said, “He could make a statement, and even call it an ‘order,’ but there is no legal compulsion for the state governors to comply.”
Many US mosques chose to stay closed during Ramadan even though some governors chose to reopen religious facilities. Even the hundred or so mosques in the state of Georgia, which had some of the fastest lifting of social distancing measures, remained closed for the duration of Ramadan. In lieu of in-person services, many mosques have started hosting live-streaming services, prayers, and sermons.
Some mosques might reopen slowly as per their governor’s directive, but many are choosing to move to online services throughout the remainder of the pandemic.