Pastor Tony Spell is not on board with social distancing in an effort to curb the coronavirus pandemic, instead insisting his churchgoers risk contracting coronavirus in order to live freely and without fear. The leader of the Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge has been actively defying Louisiana's shelter-in-place order by keeping his church open for congregation and exposing tons of parishioners to the virus. Over 1,000 members attended his Palm Sunday service, and he's even since been arrested and charged for violating the state mandate. However, he still plans to go forward with his in-person Easter Sunday service, and when asked if he would feel guilty should this lead to further infection and subsequently, death, he said no.

"If, in the future, one of your parishioners did die of coronavirus, having come to one of your services, would you feel like you have blood on your hands, or not?" he was asked. “No,” he responds, before quoting Psalm 23:4 from the Bible in an attempt to elaborate on his position. "Yea, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” he begins, "we will fear no evil, for God is witness. Then He said, ‘Fear not, for I am with you.’ The bible teaches us to be absent from our bodies and to be present with the Lord. So like any revolutionary or like any zealot or like any pure religious person, death looks to them like a welcome friend...True Christians do not mind dying. They fear living in fear.” He was then asked to clarify what he meant: "Your parishioners would prefer to come to the service and potentially get coronavirus and die, than not come to the service and be fine?”

pastor Baton Rough Lousiana Tony Spell Life Tabernacle Church Coronavirus death sacrifice god parishionersStephen Morton/Getty Images

"...People that prefer tyranny over freedom do not deserve freedom. People have been locked in their homes for 23 days now like prisoners. The only vent they have to their emotion is coming to the House of God and Worshipping, like free people.” When asked why he doesn't conduct services online over Zoom, for example, he said, “it does not work. If it worked then why did America spend billions and billions of dollars on churches?”

"But then, hypothetically, in one month’s time, if one of your parishioners has died of coronavirus, what do you have to say to their family who’s watching right now?” he was asked. “I have to say that they died like free people, fighting for their convictions," he responds, before pointing out that "people die at my church of cancer, HIV AIDS.” When it's brought to his attention that COVID-19 is a preventable ailment unlike those he mentioned, he questions what is "preventable." "They say everybody’s going to get it, then if everybody’s going to get it, let’s get on with life," he concludes.

Despite this questionable stance, we still urge you to continue social distancing and flatten the curve.

[Via]