Just as Holy Week got underway, CNN host Victor Blackwell invited the Louisiana pastor arrested last month for holding church services onto his show to discuss that decision. 

During the Sunday morning segment, Blackwell pointed out what he understood as hypocrisy in Pastor Tony Spell’s thinking. Spell, the pastor of the evangelical Life Tabernacle Church right outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana said that he believed the science behind the bans on large-scale gatherings all throughout the country, and in particular, his home state, but excused away his decision for continuing to hold a service, that last week attracted 1,800 congregants. 

CNN host Victor Blackwell questions Louisiana pastor Tony Spell about his decision to continue having in-person church services as the state becomes a hot spot for coronavirus infections. (Source: CNN)

“If you believe the science ― and I assume you are pro-life, is that correct?” Blackwell challenged Spell, “how is this a pro-life stance to put people in jeopardy of contracting a disease, getting a virus that has no treatment, no cure, often has no symptoms and has killed more than 8,500 people [in the U.S.] in five weeks?” Blackwell continued.

Spell responded, “We believe the science of this but we do have a command from God and there are no governing bodies that tell us we can not gather freely.” He also added that “people’s hope is in the House of God.” 

Joe Long, an attorney working with Pastor Tony Spell, watches as buses bring congregation members to Life Tabernacle Church for a Palm Sunday service in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Joe Long, an attorney working with Pastor Tony Spell, watches as buses bring congregation members to Life Tabernacle Church for a Palm Sunday service in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on April 5, 2020, despite statewide stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic. – US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Americans should continue to practice social distancing and stay home for at least 30 days. Adams pleaded with state leaders to urge residents to stay home for at least the next seven to 10 days: “There is a light at the end of the tunnel if everyone does their part.” (Photo by Claire BANGSER / AFP) (Photo by CLAIRE BANGSER/AFP via Getty Images)

The Louisiana pastor’s decision to defy local and state authorities who have banned large gatherings over 10 people comes at a time when Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards says that the state could run out of ventilators by the end of the week if coronavirus cases continue to climb. In recent weeks Louisiana has become one of the hotspots of the virus. Ranking fifth in the United States in confirmed coronavirus cases, the state now has a little over 13,000 infections and at least 477 deaths.

Since the local and state stay-at-home orders have gone into play, Spell has received a number of citations along with an arrest. He has enlisted the help of former disgraced politician Roy Moore, who as Blackwell pointed out, is not registered to practice law in the state of Louisiana. 

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