• Rev. Tony Spell asked people to donate their stimulus checks to evangelists
  • Due to the pandemic, many evangelists haven't had an offering in a month
  • Spell was charged in March for violating stay-at-home orders by holding a service

A controversial Louisiana Pastor, who was criticized for breaking coronavirus guidelines as he kept holding in-person services, is urging the people to donate their stimulus checks to evangelists.

Rev. Tony Spell posted a video on YouTube to launch his #PastorSpellStimulusChallenge, which begins on Sunday (April 19).

"Donate [stimulus checks] to evangelists, North American evangelists who haven’t had an offering in a month," the pastor urged, adding that the donation should also go to missionaries and music ministers for the same reason -- they did not receive any offering in the last month.

“I’m donating my entire stimulus, $1,200,” Spell said. “My wife is donating her stimulus, $1,200. My son is donating his stimulus, $600.”

Under the government's stimulus package, which was approved by President Donald Trump in March, individual taxpayers with an income of less than $75,000 a year and couples with a joint income of less than $150,000 a year will receive $1,200 stimulus check, as well as an additional $500 per child. The IRS has started rolling these out via direct deposit, while others may receive their check in the mail.

In late March, Louisiana authorities charged Spell of a misdemeanor for violating the coronavirus guidelines issued by Gov. John Bel Edwards, D-LA., on March 16. The governor's orders banned large gatherings to slow down the spread of the virus, but Spell still hosted a service attended by at least 500 people on Sunday (March 22).

A petition pushing for Spell’s arrest was lodged online. It earned more than 11,000 signatures.

A pastor from Louisiana is asking people to donate their stimulus checks to evangelists who have not received any offering in a month. Pixabay

"The virus, we believe, is politically motivated. We hold our religious rights dear and we are going to assemble no matter what someone says," the pastor declared when asked about the risk of holding services amid the pandemic. “Satan and a virus will not stop us.”

At that time, Louisiana had over 5,000 confirmed cases. As of Thursday (April 16), the state has over 22,500 cases and 1,200 deaths.