The nation's churches are "essential places," said Pastor Robert Jeffress of the 14,000-member First Baptist Church in Dallas, while insisting that it's a "misnomer" to say that the White House muzzled the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by not allowing it to give guidance to churches.
"Last month, the White House and CDC unveiled a plan for reopening America that included churches," Jeffress told Fox News' "Outnumbered Overtime." "Many of us were on the phone call with the surgeon general and other White House authorities. And it calls for social distancing, phased-in opening, criteria ... I think the specific application of it maybe was a little draconian a few weeks ago when the White House wanted to make sure and emphasize that these are suggestions, not hard and fast mandates."
Meanwhile, faith is the "foundation of this country," said Jeffress. "This country was founded on faith. Yes, our country has gotten more and more secular, but there are tens of millions of Americans who worship every week, whether it Saturday or Sunday. It's an essential activity."
Jeffress said his megachurch in Dallas has announced its reopening plan for June 7.
"We are going to start at 25% capacity," said Jeffress "Those who don't feel comfortable coming can just join the millions who watch us every week on broadcast TV or online. We are going to have a few people in the choir separated by six feet. We are going to provide masks, we are going to encourage the most vulnerable to consider staying at home, but hopefully sooner rather than later, we'll be back to full capacity."
He said he hates to make the matter a political issue, but "maybe it's just coincidence that the Democrats are the ones who are restricting religious liberty. If so, it's not only a wrong decision by the Democrats, it's a stupid decision. It just plays into the narrative that they have become a more and more Godless party, and it is President Trump who is championing religious liberty. That's what you're seeing play out here."
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.