Pence To Mark ‘Freedom Sunday’ At Dallas Church As Texas Halts Reopening on Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and U.S. Housing Secretary Ben Carson will attend "Celebrate Freedom Sunday," a large in-person event at the First Baptist Dallas megachurch located near the city’s arts district.
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Pence’s visit at the church will occur just three days after Abbott placed the state’s reopening plan on hold after a massive outbreak of COVID-19 cases statewide. As of Friday, Texas ranks fifth among U.S. states with the highest number of coronavirus cases.
Texas was listed as one of several "hot spot" states that Pence will tour in order to get "ground reports" on the ongoing epidemic, according to comments made in Friday’s briefing by the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
On Friday, Dallas County Health and Human Services reported 496 newly confirmed coronavirus cases bringing county’s total case count to 19,034, with 344 total deaths to date.
In a Friday morning tweet, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said that 73 percent of the city’s ICU hospital beds are currently being used, leaving only 259 ICU beds available for new COVID-19 cases. As of Friday, the city also has 1,075 non-ICU beds available.
The Sunday church event will feature a fireworks celebration, patriotic music and a special message from Pence. Though the church says it will require temperature checks at the entrance and turn away people with temperatures over 100.4 degrees, the church says face masks and social distancing are "strongly encouraged" but not required.
The church’s pastor, Robert Jeffress, is a member of President Donald Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board and White House Faith Initiative which advises the administration on religious issues. Jeffress has publicly opposed same-sex marriage and believes followers of Judaism, Islam, Mormonism, and Hinduism will all go to hell.
After the event, Pence will reportedly meet with Abbott and the governor’s healthcare team to discuss the statewide epidemic.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins told the Texas Tribune that the county has tried conferring with the church about best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"If they have to do it, I hope they do it outside, and if they do it outside, I hope they keep it to less than 100 people, and that’s not really safe, but they have a right do it," Jenkins said of the event.
The church’s Worship Center seats 3,000 people. The church is also planning overflow areas where attendees of Sunday’s event can watch it unfold on wide-screen television.
Advocates call order advancing religious freedom globally a needed action
President Donald Trump’s executive order on religious freedom issued in early June lays out a strategy for expanding U.S. support for international religious freedom that the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has been urging, said the chair of the commission.
It directs departments and agencies that fund foreign assistance programs to ensure “faith-based and religious entities, including eligible entities in foreign countries, are not discriminated against on the basis of religious identity or religious belief when competing for federal funding.”
Trump campaign returns to Wisconsin with Mike Pence visit focused on school choice, religious faith
Pence Touts School Choice, Kicks Off ‘Faith In America’ Tour With Stops In Milwaukee Area
President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign is focusing on Wisconsin this week with visits from both Vice President Mike Pence and Trump himself.
Pence made multiple stops in the Milwaukee suburbs Tuesday, including a stop at the Waukesha STEM Academy with U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Both touted school choice during a roundtable discussion there, with Pence calling for the passing of a $5 billion federal tax credit program to pay for scholarships to private and religious schools.
After the roundtable, Pence kicked off his faith-centered tour called "Faith in America" in Pewaukee. Former Republican Gov. Scott Walker was set to join Pence for that event.
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