Louisiana pastor Tony Spell is clinging to his constitutional right to kill his flock, telling CNN's Victor Blackwell that he planned to bring worshippers in by the busload in spite of the stay-at-home order and risk of death from COVID-19.
Earlier in the week the Life Tabernacle Church pastor called the virus "politically motivated" and vowed to exercise his First Amendment right to assemble. Today he had much more to say about that.
"This morning, yes, sir, 10:00 AM," he told Blackwell in response to whether he'd hold services this week. "We will actually run our buses. We have 27 buses that we cover in a 50-mile radius of our city. We bring people into the house of God, feed them natural food and spiritual food and then we go right back into our respective places. It takes us about eight hours to run into service on Sunday morning and then we come back in tonight.”
Now he claims they disinfect the church and practice social distancing but I'm thinking about those buses and that it absolutely won't matter whether or not they bleach everything before putting 1800 or so people together for 8 hours to eat and sing. They should take a lesson from the Skagit Valley Choir.
When Blackwell challenged him to reconcile his "pro-life" stance with his decision to place people at risk of getting a disease that might kill them, Spell had an answer for that, too.
“My response to that is people’s hope is in the house of God,” Spell declared. “If they do contract the virus, if they have fears of the virus, the church is more essential now than ever to pray with people, to let them know there is a physician in Jesus Christ."
He emphasized, "He is the healer; come under you all that are weary and heavy-laden, let me give you rest."
And as a parting shot, he noted, "We were supposed to be at a million and a half body bags and we’re at 4,800 so the narrative is false."
Oh hey, Pastor. We well may be at a million and a half body bags. Brown and black people are dying from this virus in higher proportions because of poverty and want. Those conditions don't go away by faith, and viruses don't stop killing people. Putting all of those people at risk by packing them in buses and taking them to church is not what I view as Christian charity.
How is this so difficult to understand? How is it so difficult to be creative with church, to use radios and the internet and television or whatever else we can so people don't die?
They may have the right to assemble, but at what cost?