WASHINGTON (RNS) — President Donald Trump has unveiled new guidance classifying houses of worship as “essential services” and insisting that governors allow faith groups to worship despite the risk of furthering the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Trump made the announcement Friday afternoon (May 22) at a press conference at the White House and appeared to set up a potential standoff between his administration and governors who have halted worship services during the pandemic.

“Today I’m identifying houses of worship — churches, synagogues, and mosques — as essential places that provide essential services,” he said. “So I’m correcting this injustice in calling houses of worship essential. I call upon governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now. If there’s any

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