KEY POINTS

  • Pastor Tony Spell has been charged with misdemeanour for defying an order against large public gatherings
  • Another pastor, Rodney Howard-Browne, was charged and has been arrested for defying the order
  • The local police chief has said that they should have served as positive examples during the COVID-19 crisis

In just two days, police have charged a pastor for defying public orders against large gatherings. The pastor still plans to hold church services with hundreds of members despite the summons. He will also still be gathering his flock every Sunday, making him the second pastor to do so.

According to CNN, Pastor Tony Spell of the Life Tabernacle Church was issued a misdemeanour summons for violating the governor’s rule on holding gatherings of large crowds. Central Police Chief Roger Corcoran issued a statement where he bashed the pastor’s defiance, saying that it was unfortunate he didn’t choose to participate in the “strength and resilience” of the community at the present time.

Spell isn’t the only pastor who has chosen to defy orders that have been in place because of the quarantine. Another church pastor that is currently incarcerated is Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne, who famously claimed that he wouldn’t close the doors of his own megachurch “until the End Times begin.”

To be fair, these pastors haven’t been the only ones who defied the law against large crowds. Other pastors in the US have refused to close the doors of their churches, US News reported. One of them, Pastor Robert Jeffress, has been described to be close to the president and decided to hold services at his First Baptist church. He has since held online-only worship services.

Another Florida church, where Paula White, Trump’s adviser on faith issues, held in-person services, has since shifted to online-only services. The latter has called for “a fearless church” which also practices “common-sense approaches” due to the current situation

This was what Spell had missed out, Corcoran said, adding that a lot of officials have been in contact with the pastor — sheriffs, state police, the fire marshal, and even an evangelical adviser to the White House. Still, the pastor decided to push through with the crowded gathering. The police chief said that it was regrettable since he expected community leaders like the pastor to set an example in following the law.

The Mormon Church is suspending all public ceremonies and gatherings of its members around the world The Mormon Church is suspending all public ceremonies and gatherings of its members around the world Photo: AFP / GEORGE FREY