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Pastor At Life Tabernacle Church In Baton Rouge Holds Easter Service Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Source: Chris Graythen / Getty

Pastor Tony Spell is continuing to be an outlaw in the name of the Lord by hosting in-person church services despite Louisiana mandating social distancing. The pastor was recently placed on house arrest for allegedly assaulting a protestor last week by backing up towards him in a church bus. However, the religious leader seems to have no problems defying the judge’s orders by hosting his services.

According to Fox 5, the pastor not only hosted another in-person service this past Sunday at Life Tabernacle Church, but he live-streamed it for the whole world to see. The video shows Spell walking among more than 100 congregants, usually repeating the phrase, “I’ve just got to get to Jesus. … Come on America, let’s get back to Jesus.” Almost all of the attendees weren’t wearing a protective face covering nor were they practicing social distancing.

According to TMZ, the judge could have cited Spell for contempt of court and he could’ve been sent to the county jail for defying his house arrest. However, he refused to reprimand Spell. The judge claimed that he was worried Spell might infect the other inmates who are currently in jail. Although this is a noble cause, most prisoners across the country still face unhealthy environments inside jails and prisons, increasing the risks of contracting the coronavirus. It’d be nice if the judge would advocate for these prisoners in other ways.

Spell will most likely defy his house arrest orders again and host another in-person service next Sunday and the Sunday after that, putting more people at risk of the coronavirus even though he hasn’t necessarily tested positive for the virus. Will the man at least get some community service requirements? A fine? Something?

Meanwhile, one 2018 study reports that Black men were re-incarcerated more often and more quickly than white men despite having lower risk scores. It brings to question how many Black people are sitting in Louisiana prisons or jails who defied their house arrest for low-risk reasons.

Spell was placed on house arrest after he drove a church bus in reverse in the direction of a sign-holding demonstrator who was protesting his services last Sunday. Spell turned himself in to authorities and was later released from jail. He faces aggravated assault and improper reversing charges. He also still faces misdemeanor charges for hosting in-person church services despite the ban of gatherings.

During his live stream, images from Spell’s arrest played over music being performed at the church. A GoFundMe account to assist with his legal costs was also presented to his parishioners.

Meanwhile, the protestor who accused Spell of backing into him, Trey Bennett, continues to protest in front of the church. He’s been demonstrating since Easter Sunday when he witnessed hundreds of parishioners still attending services in defiance of Louisiana’s stay-at-home mandate, which prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people. Other churches across the state have set up online worship services instead.

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