Texas Governor Designates Religious Services as 'Essential' Activities


In an executive order issued Tuesday, Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott listed religious services among the essential services that should continue amid the coronavirus epidemic

In the order, which addressed the “statewide continuity of essential services” during the pandemic, Abbott called for Texans “except where necessary to provide or obtain essential services, minimize social gatherings and minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household.”

The governor referenced the Department of Homeland Security’s Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce Version 2.0 as the authority Texas would follow as to what essential services include.

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The work areas listed included utilities, health care, food services, transportation and emergency services, among others.

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However, Abbott added to the list “religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship.”

“In providing or obtaining essential services, people and businesses should follow the Guidelines from the President and the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] by practicing good hygiene, environmental cleanliness, and sanitation, implementing social distancing, and working from home if possible,” the governor wrote.

“If religious services cannot be conducted from home or through remote services, they should be conducted consistent with the Guidelines from the President and the CDC by practicing good hygiene, environmental cleanliness, and sanitation, and by implementing social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” his order said.

Abbott Executive Order by The Western Journal on Scribd

Most churches nationwide have not been gathering in person as they comply with the Trump administration’s guidance to avoid meeting in groups of more than 10 people.

Fritz Hager, executive pastor of Bible Bethel Church in Tyler, Texas, told The Western Journal nearly all the churches in his city stopped meeting in their buildings by mid-March.

Hager said Abbott had encouraged churches to go online but had given them flexibility.

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“We had thought we were going to be OK for services … but with local confirmed cases we decided we would go ahead and close down,” Hager said.

Some congregations, including Connection Christian Church in Odessa, Texas, have opted for drive-in services in their building’s parking lot.

“Cars turned their radio dials to 100.5 F.M. and then the service started just like it would inside of the walls of the church,” KWES-TV in Midland reported.

The same thing is happening at other locations around the country.

John Leach — executive senior pastor of Life Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania — told The Western Journal his church, like many larger congregations, has broadcast services online for years.

The congregation is using this time to grow its online presence.

To its regular online services, Life Center has added daily online devotionals and prayer focuses during the time of enforced physical separation.

“We’re using this as a chance to expand, not pull back,” Leach said.

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Randy DeSoto has written more than 3,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Graduated dean's list from West Point
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith