On Wednesday morning, president Trump responded on Twitter to a video that showed church-goers being arrested for holding a large outdoor service without wearing face masks or abiding by social distancing measures.
The video was captioned by Cliff Maloney, the president of student activism organisation Young Americans for Liberty, who wrote: “If you would have told me in 2019 that we were just 1 year away from Americans being ARRESTED for holding outdoor church services, I would have thought you to be insane.
“This is one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever seen. Pray for America.”
In response to the video, Mr Trump falsely tweeted without providing any evidence: “DEMS WANT TO SHUT YOUR CHURCHES DOWN, PERMANENTLY. HOPE YOU SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING. VOTE NOW!”
DEMS WANT TO SHUT YOUR CHURCHES DOWN, PERMANENTLY. HOPE YOU SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING. VOTE NOW! https://t.co/dqvqz6b1WD
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2020
At the event in Moscow City, Idaho, which attracted at least 150 people, three Christians were arrested by the local police, as others were issued citations for breaching coronavirus guidelines, according to the Christian Post.
Mr Trump has repeatedly praised conservative Christians in speeches and interviews over the last four years, and has attempted to position Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as being against Christianity.
During a rally for evangelicals earlier this year, Mr Trump said that his “administration will never stop fighting for Americans of faith,” while at an event in Ohio in August, Mr Trump said that Mr Biden, who is catholic, is “against God”.
During a radio show interview in North Dakota last week, the president’s son Eric Trump echoed his comments, and said that his father has “literally saved Christianity” in the US, as he falsely claimed that Democrats want to “attack” the faith.
Here's the audio of Eric Trump listing "he literally saved Christianity" as one of his father's accomplishments in office. pic.twitter.com/uJG6YUPAbq
— andrew kaczynski🤔 (@KFILE) October 6, 2020
When giving a list of achievements he attributes to his father, he said: “He literally saved Christianity, there's a war on faith in this country by the other side.
“I mean, the Democratic Party, the far left, has become the party of the quote-unquote atheist, they want to attack Christianity, they want to close churches, they want to - they're totally fine keeping liquor stores open, but they want to close churches all over the country.”
Eric Trump’s issue appeared to be rooted in the closing of churches across the US during the coronavirus pandemic, in order for large gatherings to be kept to levels deemed safe.
Although places of worship have been re-opened in several states across the US, that decision was not made by the president, but by local and state officials.
His reference to liquor stores appears to be about the decision in numerous states earlier in the year to re-open them, while keeping places of worship shut.
However, church services often occur for at least an hour and encourage community engagement, while liquor store purchases often take very little time and require minimal interaction.
Additionally, new research by Scientific American has found that an overwhelming amount of coronavirus infections are driven by “super spreader” events, where a disproportionate number of infected people spread the virus to a much larger number of individuals.
A recent article in the magazine read: “Scientists have identified factors that catalyse such events, including large crowd sizes, close contact between people and confined spaces with poor ventilation.
“Current evidence suggests that it is mostly circumstances such as these, rather than the biology of specific individuals, that sets the stage for extreme spreading of the novel coronavirus.”
Christianity also does not appear to be in danger in the country, as every president in US history has identified as such, and nearly 70 per cent of Americans still call themselves Christian.
The president took 80 per cent of the white, evangelical Christian vote in 2016, and is aiming to recreate similar numbers on 3 November’s presidential election.