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Louisiana pastor defies gathering ban, says coronavirus is 'politically motivated'


Police told him the National Guard would break up any further meeting

Photo: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

A Louisiana pastor defied the governor's ban on large gatherings and held church services with hundreds of people attending.

Reverend Tony Spell said that coronavirus was "not a concern" for members of the Life Tabernacle Church in East Baton Rouge Parish.

He told WAFB that police showed up after his church service and told him that they would bring out the National Guard to shut down any further services with more than 50 people.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards had ordered gatherings of more than 50 people to be banned in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

"The virus, we believe, is politically motivated," said Spell. "We hold our religious rights dear and we are going to assemble no matter what someone says."

In a video posted to Spell's YouTube account, he said that the church takes precautions to disinfect the church and protect the attendees. He also cited the Establishment Clause of the Constitution to defend his defiance of the ban by the governor.

One of the church attendees told WAFB she wasn't scared of the virus.

"I love Pastor Spell for giving me the Word. I love him for the man he is. He changed me so much. I'm not missing my church because of no coronavirus. I love the Lord and He's going to take care of us," said Lillian Alexander.

Here's a video statement about coronavirus from Spell:

COVID-19 announcement 3/13/2020www.youtube.com

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