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Pentecostal Pastor Won’t Stop Church for COVID-19

What if congregations don’t comply with public health orders? We’re about to find out.
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Pentecostal Pastor Won’t Stop Church for COVID-19
Image: Screen grab from Central City News / Facebook

A pastor in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, says he will defy government orders intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Oneness Pentecostal congregation met on Tuesday, despite the declaration of a state-wide public health emergency banning gatherings of 50 or more people. Life Tabernacle Church plans to meet again on Sunday, setting up a possible legal clash between religious liberty protections and the state’s authority to respond to a pandemic.

“The virus, we believe, is politically motivated,” pastor Tony Spell told CNN affiliate WAFB. “We hold our religious rights dear, and we are going to assemble no matter what someone says.”

The church typically draws more than 1,000 attendees on Sunday. About 300 gathered Tuesday night and the pastor posted a 25-minute clip of the service from Central City News on his Facebook page. Ministers passed out anointed handkerchiefs and Spell preached about fear.

“This is an extreme test brought on us by the spirit of ...

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