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Sen. Tom Cotton said on Friday that there is no reason churches, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship should remain closed while liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries are open amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is time to let people go back to worship with their congregations,” Cotton, R-Ark., told “Outnumbered Overtime.”
Cotton said that after discussing reopening strategies with pastors of churches, they’ve laid out plans to have more services throughout a day in order to break up the congregation, lessening the amount of attendance per service.
Cotton's comments came after President Trump on Friday announced that new Centers for Disease Control guidance will classify houses of worship as “essential,” as he called on governors to allow them to open “right now” after being closed during the coronavirus lockdowns.
Trump announced the policy for churches, synagogues and mosques during a short briefing at the White House.
"The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now--for this weekend," Trump said. "If they don't do it, I will override the governors.
"In America, we need more prayer not less," Trump said.
The announcement comes after Trump has been hearing concerns of faith leaders who are unable to hold Sunday services due to coronavirus restrictions at a time when their parishioners are grappling with the crisis. Families may be grieving the loss of loved ones from the virus or struggling with job loss but unable to seek respite in their places of worship.
On Thursday, Trump had a conference call with 1,600 pastors and faith leaders from around the country, including Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. He reassured them he wants to get churches reopened.
Trump telegraphed the decision Thursday when he announced he spoke to the CDC on finding ways to reopen houses of worship during the pandemic.
Cotton said that Americans have a “constitutional right” to worship his or her god in the manner they choose.
“I am very confident that every house of worship can help protect their members,” Cotton said.
Churches across the country had to close down due to stay-home orders necessary to stop the spread of the contagious virus. Faith leaders set up online services and families tuned in Sunday mornings from their computers at home.
Last week the CDC released new guidelines that schools, businesses and other organizations can use as states reopen from coronavirus shutdowns. The document, however, excluded guidance for churches and faith-based groups because the White House raised concerns about the recommended restrictions, the Associated Press reported.
Fox News' Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.