WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — A group of Texas pastors is pushing back against President Donald Trump pressuring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to change their guidelines for reopening school in the fall.
President Trump on Wednesday threatened to withhold federal funding if schools don't reopen in the fall, and he lashed out at federal health officials over school reopening guidelines that he says are "impractical and expensive."
Taking to Twitter to voice his frustration, President Trump argued countries including Germany, Denmark and Norway have reopened schools “with no problems.” He also repeated his claim that Democrats want to keep schools closed for political reasons and not because of any risks associated with the coronavirus.
“The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election,” Trump said, “but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!”
He did not immediately say what funding he would cut off or under what authority.
However, the group Pastors for Texas Children took issue with the president pushing his "political interests" when deciding the best route to open schools.
"This must be said as clearly as possible," the group tweeted. "The political interests of President Donald Trump and and all politicians must have ZERO bearing on school reopening. Only the safety of Texas education public schoolchildren, teachers and parents matters."
According to their website, Pastors for Texas Children is a ministry that serves Texas’ neighborhood public schools through prayer, service and advocacy.
"We support our schools by initiating school assistance programs with local congregations, promoting social justice for children, and advancing legislation that puts the needs of Texas children, families and communities first," the website states.
Rev. Charles Foster Johnson is the founder and executive director of the group.
Rev. Johnson is founder and co-pastor of Bread, a faith community in Fort Worth. Throughout his 40-year pastoral ministry he has served churches in Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee and Texas. Rev. Johnson served on the faculty of McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University, as Visiting Professor of Preaching. He has served as a pastoral mentor for students at Perkins School of Theology (SMU) and Brite Divinity School (TCU), where he currently serves on the Board of Directors. He is involved in civic and denominational life and has been twice named “Baptist of the Year” by the Baptist Center for Ethics (in 2004 and 2018). Rev. Johnson was inducted into Morehouse College’s Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers in 2008.
During a press conference, Vice President Mike Pence said the CDC will be issuing new guidance and a new set of tools soon to provide "more clarity" for how to safely reopen schools in the fall.
Vice President Pence pointed to a slowing coronavirus death rate nationally and early indications of positive tests flattening in Arizona, Florida and Texas. Those three states in recent weeks have seen some of the biggest spikes in coronavirus infections.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Associated Press contributed to this report.