(CNSNews.com) -- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) revised his March 19 executive order in response to the coronavirus to now include "religious services" as "essential services." This includes religious services "conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship," and the new order went into effect on April 2.
Prior to the change, "essential services" in Texas included going to the grocery store, the gas station, or to see a doctor; they did not include attending a church service.
The new rule states, "to achieve the goals established by the President to reduce the spread of COVD-19, every person in Texas shall, 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."
“'Essential services' shall consist of everything listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Version 2.0, plus religious services conducted in churches, congregations, and houses of worship," states the order. "Other essential services may be added to this list with the approval of the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM)." (Emphasis added.)
"In providing or obtaining essential services, people and businesses should follow the Guidelines from the President and the CDC by practicing good hygiene, environmental cleanliness, and sanitation, implementing social distancing, and working from home if possible," reads the order.
"In particular," it states, "all services should be provided through remote telework from home unless they are essential services that cannot be provided through remote telework."
"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," according to the order. (Emphasis added.)
In many states, because of the coronavirus, churches are closed and in-person services are prohibited -- prayer and worship of God is not considered "essential."
To read the new executive order, click here.