LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — President Donald Trump is urging individual state leaders to reopen houses of worship as soon as possible, adding America needs more prayer, not less, amid the pandemic.
"These are places that hold our society together and keep our people united," said President Trump during a news conference Friday.
"The people are demanding to go to church and synagogues and to mosques; many millions of Americans embrace worship as an essential part of life," added President Trump.
The president called on governors to allow houses of worship to reopen under new guidelines, released by the Centers for Disease Control, Friday.
"I'm happy that we recognize that houses of worship are an essential part of daily life," said Philip Goldstein, a Cantor and Spiritual Leader at Shirat Shalom in Las Vegas.
Goldstein says faith is what many people are using to deal with the current pandemic.
The spiritual leader also says there are still many questions regarding implementation and mix signals from the federal government and state authorities.
"We have to do this in a logical way, we have to do it in a way following guidelines and all of the things that are necessary in order to be safe," said Goldstein.
The president remains at odds against governors and states that he deems opening slower than he would like, and threatening to override decisions or withhold federal dollars.
"Is there a legal mechanism for him, like an executive order? No, there's not," said Matthew Hoffmann of Battle Born Injury Attorneys.
"He can issue an executive order, but it would really have no force and effect," added Hoffmann.
Hoffmann says it is possible the US Department of Justice may investigate or eventually bring a lawsuit against states that prevent houses of worship from opening.
The Diocese of Las Vegas released a statement:
Bishop George Leo Thomas, Ph.D., the Bishop of the Diocese of Las Vegas, said today that while he is pleased that houses of worship have been deemed essential services by the federal government, the reopening of the parishes of the Diocese of Las Vegas will be led by its Diocesan Restoration Council.
“I established the Council to ensure the safe and systematic reopening of our parishes in a manner that follows and respects the guidelines and limitations provided by health officials and the State of Nevada. It is essential that we are mindful of necessary precautions and safety recommendations for the health and well-being of all of our people,” Bishop Thomas said.
The Diocese of Las Vegas is currently under a discontinuance order until May 31, 2020.
The Diocesan Restoration Council is chaired by Mr. John Kilduff, President of Bishop Gorman High School and is comprised of representatives from a wide array of disciplines including medical, gaming, education, civic, law enforcement, engineering, logistics and pastoral ministry.
The Council has met several times and is working on an established set of protocols based on guidance and recommendations that have been made available to date. They will be taking this new development and guidance under advisement and will be working to finalize plans for the reopening of parishes.
Further announcements will be made once the plans have been finalized to include timing.
13 Investigates reached out to Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak's office, but a request for comment was not immediately returned.