Louisiana pastor Tony Spell violated his house arrest today to hold church services. When released on bond yesterday, the judge mandated that he abstain from any more criminal activities, follow the social distancing protocols issued by Governor John Bel Edwards, and stay at least 50 feet away from his church.
According to The Advocate, Spell planned to surrender himself into custody after church services were over. However, the shooting of a police officer in Baton Rouge tied up law enforcement and many of the county’s resources, preventing him from turning himself in.
District Attorney Hillar Moore III said his office did not plan to pursue Spell’s house arrest violation at this time. A judge would also need to issue an arrest warrant if it was discovered he violated the conditions of his house arrest.
As The Inquisitr previously reported, Spell was placed under house arrest yesterday after he refused to say whether or not he would comply with the Louisiana governor’s mandatory stay-at-home order by ceasing church services.
The controversial pastor has already been charged with six misdemeanor counts of breaking the order. Spell was previously booked at Parish Prison after a protestor accused him of threatening to hit him with one of the church buses along Hooper Road.
At the service hosted today at Life Tabernacle Church, many of the reverend’s supporters held signs saying things like “I stand with Pastor Spell.”
He reportedly told the churchgoers that it is “dirty rotten shame when you’re hiding in America.”
While Spell seems intent on ignoring the governor’s social distancing measures designed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, he has told his congregants not to touch each other and to stay home from service if they feel sick.
“God gave you an immune system to kill the virus. I’m not going to bind the virus,” he said at today’s service.
Newsweek reports that at least one member of Spell’s congregation died of COVID-19 complications. It is unclear where he contracted the virus. When Spell heard the news, he dubbed it a lie.
The Pentecostal pastor has remained adamant about not following the social distancing restrictions. He claims that they violate his First Amendment right to practice his faith.
“I am not guilty of defying any orders. The only thing I am guilty of is practicing my faith which was given to me by Jesus Christ himself,” said Spell after he was released on bond.