A Louisiana pastor who made headlines last week when he ignored social-distancing efforts to welcome hundreds of worshipers to his church again flouted state guidelines Sunday, area news outlets are reporting.
According to WVLA-TV, the Rev. Tony Spell, pastor of Life Tabernacle Church in Central, said more than 1,800 people came to the church Sunday for an outdoor service. More than 300 worshiped there March 17 and 1,100 on March 15, he said in earlier interviews.
Spell said the church used 26 buses to bring members to Sunday’s service, which came about a week after Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a state order prohibiting gatherings of more than 50 people amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to WAFB. On Monday evening, a stay-at-home order also went into effect for the entire state, the news station reported.
Spell, who previously claimed that concerns about the virus are “politically motivated,” told WVLA that he will depend on God to heal any church members who fall sick.
“When the paramedics can’t get there, when the law enforcement can’t get there, the Holy Ghost can get there,” he said, according to WVLA. “It will make a difference in someone’s life.”
In response to news of the service, Edwards told WVLA that he “would urge that faith leaders ... heed” the stay-at home order.
So far, the virus has killed at least 16,500 people worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.