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Trump warns of broken America if churches aren’t reopened

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President Donald Trump says he wants churches to reopen as quickly as possible as they are so important to the “psyche” he believes if they remained closed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic “you’ll break the country.”

“We want them churches to reopen. I mean literally, I just got off the phone with CDC and I talked about churches. I said, ‘I want the churches to open.’ And the people want the churches to open, and I think you’ll have something come down very soon from CDC. We want to get our churches back and our country is coming back,” Trump told reporters during a round table meeting of African American leaders in Michigan Thursday.

He said while statewide shutdowns which began in March helped prevent up to 2.5 million people from dying, “it’s time for our country to open again.”

“I think you’ll start with churches, I think you’ll start with some other states that have been very resistant. You have a lot of, unfortunately in this case Democrat governors, I think they think it’s good politics to keep it closed. But what are they doing? They are hurting themselves. I don’t think it is good politics. They are hurting themselves. They are hurting their state and it’s not good,” Trump said.

“I think they are being forced to open, frankly. The people want to get out. You’ll break the country if you don’t. And I think they look at it as a possible November question. It’s not a November question, it happens to be very bad for them,” he added, alluding to the upcoming general election.

When asked if he was prioritizing the reopening of churches over other establishments, Trump explained that he believes the work of the church is “essential.”

“Churches, to me, they are so important in terms of the psyche of our country. Beyond to me, I think they use the word essential. Churches are essential. People want to be in their churches. It’s wonderful to sit home and watch something on a laptop but it can never be the same as being in a church and being with your friends,” he said. “They want to have it opened and I think that’s going to be happening very shortly, very, very shortly. So that (CDC guidelines) will be put out maybe tomorrow. Maybe today.”

A senior White House Official told NBC News that guidelines for the reopening of places of worship have been cleared by the White House Counsel’s Office and they include recommendations such as wearing gloves while distributing Holy Communion, social distancing and holding virtual services as a last resort.

While the majority of churches nationwide followed orders to suspend in-person worship services as the coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 90,000 people and infected more than 1.6 million in the U.S., a vocal minority of churches have challenged the orders as First Amendment violations.

Some churches, even though they complied with state orders and reopened when they were told it was safe to do so, have been forced to shut down again as they registered cases of coronavirus infections in their congregations.

Sources: Christianpost

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750 killed at Ethiopian Orthodox church said to contain Ark of the Covenant: report

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Around 750 people were killed in an attack on an Orthodox church, which is said to contain the Ark of the Covenant described in the Book of Exodus in the Bible, in northern Ethiopia’s war-torn Tigray region — home to thousands of churches and monasteries — according to reports.

Hundreds of people hiding in Maryam Tsiyon Church in Aksum amid an armed conflict were brought out and shot to death, and local residents believe the aim was to take the Ark of Covenant to Addis Ababa, the Belgium-based nonprofit European External Programme with Africa reported in this month’s situational report, released on Jan. 9.

“The number of people killed is reported as 750,” it said. The church, the most ancient and sacred of Ethiopian Christianity and also known as the Church of St. Mary of Zion, belongs to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

“I’ve not heard more than rumours about the looting of the Arc from Maryam Tsion, but if it’s true that up to 750 died defending it, it is conceivable that the attackers didn’t stop there,” said Michael Gervers, a professor of history at the University of Toronto, according to The Telegraph.

“The government and the Eritreans want to wipe out the Tigrayan culture. They think they’re better than rest of the people in the country. The looting is about destroying and removing the cultural presence of Tigray,” Gervers explained.

Former BBC World Service Africa editor and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, Martin Plaut, said that those who escaped the Aksum massacre had reported that the attack began after Ethiopian federal troops and Amhara militia approached the church, the U.K.’s Church Times reported.

“People were worried about the safety of the Ark, and when they heard troops were approaching feared they had come to steal it. All those inside the cathedral were forced out into the square,” Plaut was quoted as saying.

About 1,000 people were believed to be in the church complex at the time of the attack. The EEPA said the massacre was carried out by Ethiopian federal troops and allied Amhara militia that are fighting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

The church and and the Ark have likely not been damaged, Plaut added.

The fighting began in Tigray since Nov. 4 when the region’s ruling political party Tigray People’s Liberation Front captured the Northern Command army base in the regional capital Mekelle as part of an uprising, after which Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a military offensive. Abiy claimed on Nov. 28 that the Ethiopian National Defense Force had regained “full command” of Mekelle.
Sources:Christian Post

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Charges dropped against deacon arrested for singing hymns outdoors

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A court has dismissed all charges against a church deacon who was one of the three arrested last September for singing while not wearing a mask at a “psalm sing” outdoor worship service held in Moscow City, Idaho.

The Idaho District Court dropped charges against Gabriel Rench in the case State of Idaho v. Gabriel Rench. The deacon was arrested at an event hosted by Christ Church and held outside City Hall in response to the extension of a COVID-19-prompted mask mandate imposed by Moscow’s mayor at the time, the law firm Thomas More Society, which represented the church, said.

“We had done the Psalm sing in the past under the same [mask] resolution and we weren’t arrested, we weren’t warned … we were just taking our constitutional liberties to do what we’re allowed to do under the Constitution — worship,” Rench said, referring to the event that was attended by about 200 people.

The city of Moscow, “appears to have been so anxious to make an example of Christ Church’s opposition to their desired COVID restrictions that they failed to follow the mandatory exemptions articulated in their own laws,” Thomas More Society Special Counsel Michael Jacques noted.

“The Moscow City Code allows the Mayor to issue public health emergency orders, but exempts ‘[a]ny and all expressive and associative activity that is protected by the United States and Idaho Constitutions, including speech, press, assembly, and/or religious activity,’” Jacques explained. “Mr. Rench and the other worshipers who were arrested had their constitutionally protected liberties violated and their lives disrupted — not only by the inappropriate actions of law enforcement officers, but also by city officials who did not immediately act to correct this unlawful arrest.”

After Rench and others were arrested in September, the church wrote on its Facebook page: “Yesterday Christ Church sponsored a flash psalm sing at city hall. We were going to appear there at quarter to [5 p.m.], sing three psalms or hymns, then the doxology, and then out. The songs were Psalm 20, Psalm 124, and ‘Amazing Grace.’ When we arrived, the police were waiting for us. One of them informed me that people either had to social distance or wear a mask or otherwise face a citation.”

Douglas Wilson, who wrote the post, added: “I told him that I would inform everyone of that, which I did. I said a brief prayer, and we began to sing. Over the following 15 minutes of singing, three of our people were arrested, and two others were cited.”
Sources:Christian Post

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