Photo Credits: The Advocate
On the last day of March, Life Tabernacle Church in Louisiana was full with people during a service held by Tony Spell. Tony Spell, a Louisiana pastor, gathered worshipers to hear him preach despite the ban on gatherings because of coronavirus. Besides the pastor and his followers, a few protesters also showed up, one of them holding up a sign reading: “God don’t like stupid.” After the service finished, people began leaving the church and, according to The Religion News Service, many appeared not to be adhering to social distancing recommendations to remain at least six feet (2 meters) apart. Hugs and handshakes were shared freely as people said their goodbyes and departed.
Because of this Tony Spell was issued a misdemeanor summons by police for six counts of violating the governor’s order that banned large gathering. "Instead of showing the strength and resilience of our community during this difficult time, Mr. Spell has chosen to embarrass us for his own self-promotion," said Central Police Chief Roger Corcoran in a statement, as CNN reports. "Mr. Spell will have his day in court where he will be held responsible for his reckless and irresponsible decisions that endangered the health of his congregation and our community," Corcoran added.
Because of coronavirus outbreak many countries have imposed different restriction measures. In United States, president Donald Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency. This led to many places of public gatherings being temporarily closed and churches, mosques, synagogues and temples also followed this example. But there are those who violate these bans and Spell is not the only one. Another Florida pastor has been arrested for holding large services at his mega church in Tampa despite orders that ban any large gatherings.
COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus is endangering people every day causing health issues that go from mild or moderate symptoms such as fever to sever symptoms like pneumonia and it can be fatal. Coronavirus can spread easily in large crowds when people are close to each other and that is why officials are issuing “stay-at-home” orders like the one that is in force in Louisiana. According to the Religion News Service, Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards said that law enforcement authorities had been "extremely patient" with Spell and had "done everything that they could" to get him to comply with the governor's order before issuing the summons. But because those appeals did not have any effect the police had to raise charges against Spell.