Pastor brings 1,000 people to Sunday service, defying state’s coronavirus order

A Louisiana pastor defied a coronavirus state-order against large gatherings, claiming 1,000 people showed up at his recent Sunday church service.

On Sunday, Pastor Tony Spell said his Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge bussed people from five parishes in for the service, assembling the 1,000-person gathering despite orders to not hold gatherings of more than 50 people.

He says he plans to hold another one on Tuesday.

“If they close every door in this city, then I will close my doors,” Spell told CNN this week. “But you can’t say the retailers are essential but the church is not. That is a persecution of the faith.”

Last week, the pastor said he doesn’t believe his congregation is at risk of contracting COVID-19, he told CBS-affiliate WAFB-TV.

“It’s not a concern,” Spell said last week, of his March 17 service. “The virus, we believe, is politically motivated. We hold our religious rights dear and we are going to assemble no matter what someone says.”

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