Louisiana Pastor Tony Spell Again Defies Orders Against Large Gatherings and Holds Church Service Despite Being Placed Under House Arrest

Tony Spell, pastor of the Life Tabernacle Church in Louisiana, leaves the East Baton Rouge Parish jail on April 21, 2020. Gerald Herbert / AP

A Louisiana pastor who defied state orders against large gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic has been placed under house arrest.

Tony Spell, of Life Tabernacle Church in the city of Central, has been fitted with an ankle bracelet and placed under house arrest after he would not promise to maintain social distancing, his attorney confirmed Sunday. Spell has admitted to violating Louisiana’s mandate to avoid large gatherings by hosting church services.

Spell still showed up to the church’s Sunday service, where he was greeted with cheers, according to a livestream posted on Facebook. The pastor showed off his ankle monitor while standing in front of his congregation, claiming, “I’m not hiding anymore.”

“It’s a dirty, rotten, crying shame when you have to hide in America,” he said.

Joseph Long, Spell’s attorney, told NBC News in a statement that Spell lived 50 yards from his church, which still planned to host services Sunday. Long characterized the judge’s order as forcing Spell to stop “preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to his congregation.”

“The judge has found him in contempt of Court for refusing to promise,” Long said. “Obviously, we believe this is an illegal order in violation of the Constitution, and will litigate the issue.”

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SOURCE: NBC News, Doha Madani