A Louisiana pastor welcomed hundreds of worshippers and held church service despite government ban on large group gatherings.
On Tuesday night, Pastor Tony Spell delivered a message at his Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge to worshippers and fellow believers around the world.
“Keep going to church! Keep on worshiping God! … The church is a hospital for the sick! It’s a place of healing for the brokenhearted!”
His act is a direct defiance of the emergency order announced by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, which bans public or private gatherings with more than 50 people.
Spell told reporters that he had hosted about 300 people for Tuesday’s service, and he believes the COVID-19 scare is “politically motivated.”
He also accused the government of “over-reach” by mandating no large gatherings, and compared his defiance with that of Rosa Parks and the early American Revolutionaries.
“People are still going to work, still going to the mall. I encountered more people in Target today then I did during my service last night,” he argued.
“It’s persecution of the faith for me not to have my worship service and yet I am allowed to go out in public and shop. Why is there one standard for commerce and another for religion?”
Houses of worship around the world have closed their doors as the deadly pandemic spreads, from the Vatican to storefront mosques.
Spell however defiantly refused, stating that it is their right to worship as they please, and that we need divine aid and prayer more than ever.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gatherings with 50 people or more must be strictly avoided for the next eight weeks.
The White House announced a stricter recommendation on Monday, stating that people must not gather in groups of more than 10 and must avoid public places.
The pastor told reporters that a police officer came by the Life Tabernacle Church on Tuesday night and he was informed that the National Guard would be sent in the next time the church held a service.
Reporters tried to reach the Baton Rouge Central Police Department, but did not immediately provide a comment and instead released a statement stating that they will enforce the Governor’s order.