Trump attends mostly mask-free service at Las Vegas church

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(Oct 19): US President Donald Trump visited a Las Vegas church Sunday morning, receiving blessings and prayers from a crowd that largely neglected measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus, like wearing masks.

“The Lord said to me, ‘I am going to give your president a second win,’” Pastor Denise Goulet said to Trump, who was seated in the second row. She added later, “We’re saying, that now there’s an army, that we’ll take this to the end. So we just bless you and we thank you.”

Goulet and other pastors at the International Church of Las Vegas invited Trump to receive a blessing. The president stepped toward the edge of the stage while worshippers milled around him and extended their hands. Later, Trump spoke briefly, complimenting the service before encouraging people to vote.

“I will only say this, we are with you 100%. We are telling you, you’d better get out, because we have a group on the other side that doesn’t agree with us, you understand that,” Trump said. “And we happen to be right, so get out there on November 3rd or sooner, and do your thing.”

Trump relies heavily on conservative Christian voters, who backed him by a wide margin in 2016. Polls indicate he’s trailing Democrat Joe Biden, nationally and in key swing states, but Trump and his allies have cast doubt on those surveys and forecast a “red wave”.

Political pastor

Trump spent about an hour at the church.

“You were made to withstand the things that were coming at you,” Pastor Pasqual Urrabazo told Trump. “Everyone that’s connected with you is going to go into a new winning era.”

Paul Goulet, the church’s senior pastor, listed 10 reasons for supporting Trump, from giving “a voice to the unborn” to moving the American embassy in Jerusalem, appointing conservative judges, and making America energy-independent.

“I say God is great and he chose the right man,” Paul Goulet said, before appearing to acknowledge the risk that his remarks could be seen as overtly political for a church service. “The Bible says give honour to whom honour is due. I’m honouring our president right now because he’s done the right thing.”

The services at the non-denominational church mixed musical performances and sermon. Trump was joined by aides Hope Hicks, Kayleigh McEnany and Dan Scavino, and none wore masks.

Like Trump, the first lady and their teenaged son, Hicks and McEnany were among the White House residents or staff who recently tested positive for the coronavirus.

There appeared to be about 250 congregants in the church, with the vast majority not wearing masks. The pastors and musical performers also didn’t wear masks.