Tony Spell is the Evangelical Christian pastor who leads the Life Tabernacle megachurch in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Spell has garnered international attention due to his insistence on continuing in person thousand person gatherings in his Louisiana church, claims that his parishioners would be happy to die attending his services and calls for people to donate their entire stimulus check to his church.
Unfortunately, it seems Spell has strayed from the path of Jesus when he was caught on tape driving his bus towards a protestor.
Nothing says man of G#d like backing up over some people— Nelson Jacobsen (@Nelson Jacobsen) 1587485085
Though the state has issued stay-at-home orders, Spell has defied the new laws by continuing to hold in-person church services.
He told Insider:
"I cannot baptise people in a livestream. I can not lay hands on people in a livestream. I cannot pray for people in a livestream, and this is our biblical command — to lay hands on the sick and when they recover; baptize them by immersion in water, which we do every day."
Last week, a coroner determined one of Spell's congregants died due to the virus, making it likely many of the churchgoers at Life Tabernacle have also been exposed to it.
Yet Spell has stood firm on these large gatherings being essential, saying the corner's report was "a lie."
Two weeks ago I asked Pastor Tony Spell, â��If you knew you could save one life by canceling Sunday services, would you?â�� â��I would not,â�� he said. Today we learned 78-year old church member Harold Orillion passed away from complications related to COVID19.https://www.brproud.com/news/parishioner-of-life-tabernacle-church-passes-away-from-complications-related-to-covid-19/Â â�¦— Morgan Chesky (@Morgan Chesky) 1587082487
Not a big "Love thy neighbor" guy huh?— Nelson (@Nelson) 1587429118
Spell's endangerment of the public has lead to criticism online as well as an in-person protestor, Trey Bennet, who has stood outside the church with a picket sign for days.
His congregant died due to COVID-19, but Tony Spell still keeps his church open and asks for people's stimulus checks.http://huffp.st/5Ndvk1c— HuffPost (@HuffPost) 1587181265
Newly surfaced video shows Spell backing the church bus directly towards the protestor.
#BREAKING Central Pastor Tony Spell has a warrant out for his arrest for an incident with a protestor that happened on Sunday. Watch below. @BRProudNewspic.twitter.com/mEaSJkPpt5— Abbi Rocha (@Abbi Rocha) 1587424357
Spell later admitted that he was driving towards Bennett to "confront" him, claiming the protestor was shouting obscenities.
"That man has been in front of my church driveway for three weeks now. He shoots people obscene finger gestures and shouts vulgarities."
However the same video that shows Spell's attempt to intimidate Bennett failed to corroborate Spell's claims.
Isn't this the same pastor who was telling his congregants to give him their $1,200 stimulus checks? Lol.— Josh (@Josh) 1587470874
LOCK HIM UP!— Jeff Carter (@Jeff Carter) 1587470216
Bennet denies Spell's characterization of his protest, saying:
"I haven't done anything of the sort. I just stand there with a sign. I don't say anything to anybody."
#BREAKING: Pastor Tony Spell just cuffed and en route to EBR Parish Prison. Charged with aggravated assault, improper backing, and outstanding bench warrants. Central PD releasing a statement soon. @WAFBpic.twitter.com/4hx1yQRV4N— Graham Ulkins (@Graham Ulkins) 1587481615
On Tuesday, April 21, Spell was arrested on 6 charges, including "aggravated assault with a deadly weapon."
By midnight that same day, however, he was released and insisting he would continue holding his in-person church services.
Guess he needs his followers stimulus checks to post his bail.https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/19/us/louisiana-pastor-coronavirus-stimulus-checks-trnd/index.htmlÂ â�¦— John (@John) 1587432928
Amazing how quickly someone like him is released. Thatâ��s why people continue to do what they do.— Î±mÐ²Ñ�r lÑ�nn (@Î±mÐ²Ñ�r lÑ�nn) 1587491712
Perhaps, if Spell's congregants are lucky, he'll be arrested again before any more people catch the virus inside Life Tabernacle. One can only hope.
The book Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs is available here.