Skip to comments.Central pastor, Roy Moore gather at church as first steps to challenge coronavirus restrictions begin
Posted on 04/02/2020 12:26:05 PM PDT by abb
CENTRAL A Central pastor who has defied state orders limiting public gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic plans to put the state and city police on legal notice that restrictions on places of worship violate the state and U.S. Constitution and that the governments risk a lawsuit, the pastor's lawyer said Thursday.
The Rev. Tony Spell, pastor of Life Tabernacle Church, has continued to hold in-person public services drawing hundreds to his church off Hooper Road even after Gov. John Bel Edwards ordered people to stay home and greatly limited public gatherings and other "non-essential" forms of public life and commerce in an attempt to limit the virus's spread.
East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors filed criminal charges Wednesday against Spell. A day earlier, Central Police officers cited and arrested him on six misdemeanor counts of violating Edwards' order over a two-week period.
If convicted, Spell faces a $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail on each count.
Joe Long, a Baton Rouge lawyer who plans to enroll as the church's and Spell's attorney, said Edwards' order isn't the "least restrictive means" required under the law to protect against the pandemic when grocery stores and other services the state has deemed essential aren't held to the same standard.
"As long as there are other businesses that are out in the open and have more than 10 people, this church shall have the ability to stay open and have more than 10 people," Long said.
Long's comments came in response to a reporter's question at the tail end of a more than hourlong news conference inside Life Tabernacle Church in Central. The rally-style event, which drew Roy Moore, the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice and conservative advocate of religious liberty causes, was held in the church's main worship area.
The church left its front doors open to allow reporters standing outside in listen in, which often was difficult. Some media organizations left after Spell initially insisted on holding the news conference indoors with a few dozen of his parishioners. Church members were taking the temperature of arriving members and using a metal detector wand.
During the event, Spell, Moore and Long addressed parishioners sitting together inside with fiery rhetoric and prayer as the event was streamed online. The men cited Bible verses, aspects of the law and episodes in U.S. history to claim that people had a right to gather in church, especially in times such as this one.
"The church is the last force that is resisting the anti-Christ from setting up his kingdom on this Earth. I say let the church be the church. Let's assemble as free people and worship God in spirit and in truth regardless of what anyone says, Amen," Spell said.
Later, Long told reporters that the law requires the church and Spell to send a letter of notice before taking legal action. Long said he is also representing Spell in his criminal misdemeanor case, though the pastor has yet been given a date for his arraignment.
Responding to another question, Long said the church has no information that any of its parishioners had contracted the coronavirus. Many health experts say the virus can be leave a large share of those infected asymptomatic, though they are still contagious.
Spell also disputed a claim, raised by a reporter, that he had advised his parishioners not to seek medical help if they get the COVID-19 illness.
"I never said that," he said.
He added that the comments were a misspeaking of his beliefs about the purported healing power of laying on hands.
Roy Moore, who is licensed to practice law in Alabama, said he will seek to be admitted to practice in Louisiana and sit as Spell's and the church's co-counsel.
Hours after the pastor's arrest Tuesday, Spell, who was not taken to jail when issued the misdemeanor summonses but was fingerprinted, held another service Tuesday evening, which attracted hundreds.
Law officers at the church took no action. The charges that District Attorney Hillar Moore unveiled Wednesday did not address the Tuesday night service.
Edwards and medical experts say that limiting crowd size slows the spread of disease and reduces the risk of overwhelming the health care system. The term, referring to how cases are plotted on a chart, is known as "flattening the curve."
Roy Moore is a conservative advocate of religious liberties who was removed from his position 2003 after defying a federal judge's order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the state's high court.
He was reelected to the post in 2013 only to be removed again in 2016 over his defiance of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriages.
He resigned almost a year later to launch a run for U.S. Senate but lost to Democrat Doug Jones amid allegations Roy Moore had sexually assaulted women and teenage girls in his 30s, charges he denied. He placed fourth this spring in the Republican primary.
Hey its attention whore Roy Moore. Far be it from him to shut the door and pray in anonymity, Next he’ll be offering Biden advice on how to pick up on the young ones. Two bad Sessions and him couldn’t get in a duel where they both lose.
I guess they want to meet Jesus.
Also, here is a history of the church.
I love it. Thank you Jesus for bold men and women that stand up for our rights.
“You can’t fix stupid.”
Commie “Pastors” can shield Illegal Alien Invaders and local Commie Pols promote the phony “can’t touch it, Religion and Government thing ya know”.
But when Government oversteps US Constitutionally protected God Given Rights of Freedom of Conscience, Freedom of Assembly and Freedom of Religion, Pols promote “It’s for your own good, Public Safety and “If not for you, think of your neighbors” doncha know”.
Burn it all down.
Get back to work. Go to Church. Have a beer.
Eff this lock-down.
A sign on a local church message board by the road:
Always trust God. But wash your hands.....................
Christians proving Darwinism works.
Roy Moore is such a F’ing idiot.
It was a blessing in disguise when that dumb putz lost to Doug Jones.
And, thankfully, Jones is toast in 2020.
100% Macoozie. This is off the charts ridiculous
Be sure and read that story in Woody Jenkins’ paper about the church and its history.
They let disease riddled foreigners in and ease the way for them with money, licenses, health care and schooling but arrest Americans who defy made up law.
Either our God-given rights are inalienable, or they are not. A church might choose to suspend services, but the government has no ability to force them to do so (or the plain language of the First Amendment has no meaning). So choose, is the First Amendment expressing an inalienable right, or not?
Anything for attention, eh Roy?
Go to church, turn off the air conditioning, shake hands, hug and kiss everybody. We’re going to see Jesus. Halelujah.
May God protect them, because He is the only one who can from this STUPIDITY!
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