Pastor who refused to stop holding in-person services arrested after driving a bus towards peaceful protester

Moya Lothian-McLean@moya_lm
Wednesday 22 April 2020 11:30
news

Bizarre lockdown behaviour of the week: a Louisiana pastor has been charged with aggravated assault after driving a bus towards a man protesting outside his church.

Insider reports that Tony Spell – an evangelical pastor and leader of the Life Tabernacle ‘megachurch’ – turned himself into police after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Spell was caught on video, apparently backing a church bus deliberately towards a lone protestor who was demonstrating against Spell’s decision to keep running in-person church services despite a state-wide stay-at-home order.

Spell previously held services with “hundreds” of people in attendance, refusing to make the move to virtual preaching because he couldn’t “lay hands” on people via video call.

"I cannot baptise people in a livestream. I can not lay hands on people in a livestream. I cannot pray for people in a livestream, and this is our biblical command — to lay hands on the sick and when they recover; baptize them by immersion in water, which we do every day," Spell told Insider at the time.

The pastor was subsequently served with six misdemeanours by police but said he planned to continue with his services.

In response, protestors began to challenge his decision, including Trey Bennett, the man Spell backed his bus towards.

Spell said that he drove the bus towards Bennett in order to “confront” the man, claiming he was shouting offensive statements.

"That man has been in front of my church driveway for three weeks now. He shoots people obscene finger gestures and shouts vulgarities," Spell told WAFB9.

Bennett denied the use of profanities or obscene gestures, saying that he instead used signs in his peaceful protest.

I haven’t done anything of the sort. 

I just stand there with a sign. I don’t say anything to anybody.

After the incident, Spell was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on Tuesday.

He was released around 12pm and said he intended to hold his evening service, despite the death of a congregant last week that has been attributed to coronavirus by a coroner’s report.

Spell has since said the coroner’s report is a “lie”.

Someone might need another quick skim of the Bible's teachings...

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