Over a week ago, Louisiana’s Life Tabernacle Church hosted hundreds of churchgoers despite an emergency order banning large-group gatherings to stem the spread of COVID-19. That was bad.
This past weekend was even worse: The church paid for 26 buses to transport 1,825 attendees from all over Baton Rouge to gather for a massive outdoor service — no social distancing whatsoever.
In fact, witnesses report that parishioners gathered together in close groupings, touching and embracing each other. Nine people were baptized in water. Covered meals were served. Very few people wore protective masks or gloves.
The church’s leader, Pastor Tony Spell, doesn’t see any problem with this. Of course, if anybody in his congregation gets sick, he’ll simply heal them with the power of God.
I’m going to address that by laying hands on them and praying for them and depending on God to heal their body… When the paramedics can’t get there, when the law enforcement can’t get there, the Holy Ghost can get there: it will make a difference in someone’s life.
As far as Spell is concerned, pastors are first responders — not just in a spiritual sense, but with the literal ability to cure sickness in the faithful.
(No word on what interventions God will provide if Spell’s parishioners carry the disease into the larger community and spread infection to others as a result of this stunt.)
Speaking of first responders, law enforcement seems to have dropped the ball here. During Spell’s last big gathering, a police officer appeared to warn him that future large gatherings would be broken up by the National Guard and the Baton Rouge police force. Spell tested their promise to enforce the emergency order laid out by Governor John Bel Edwards, and they failed to follow through.
That said, a responsible pastor wouldn’t need the National Guard to come enforce health measures put in place to protect everyone. Spell is making a show of disregarding law and medicine here, grandstanding to make a political point — because, as he’s stated very clearly, he believes that the virus is a political tactic to try to strip Americans of their religious freedoms.
(You know who doesn’t have religious freedom, Pastor Spell? People who have died of COVID-19. In Louisiana, that number stands at 46 people and counting)
It has been less than a week since we last covered Spell’s church and their blatant disregard for proper pandemic protocol. At that time, Louisiana had 347 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
At the time this article was written, that number had jumped to 1,388.
That’s just confirmed cases — there’s no way of knowing whether people at Spell’s service have been exposed or infected, or how many of them, or how many of the other attendees made contact with them.
(Screenshot via YouTube)