While many churches will host Easter Sunday services online, pastor Tony Spell defiantly maintains his Life Tabernacle Church, near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, will remain open. He says he’s expecting a crowd of 2,000 worshippers despite the federal government’s coronavirus guidelines which advocate safe-distancing, The Hill Reports.
Spell, who has previously been cited for violating an executive order that bans churches from holding large gatherings, claims God will protect his followers from coronavirus.
“Satan and a virus will not stop us,” he told Reuters. “God will shield us from all harm and sickness. We are not afraid. We are called by God to stand against the Antichrist creeping into America’s borders. We will spread the Gospel.”
Even as more than 500,000 coronavirus infections resulting in nearly 19,000 deaths have been reported in the U.S., Spell has said that “like any zealot or any pure religious person, death looks to them like a welcome friend.”
“True Christians do not mind dying. They fear living in fear,” he said in an interview earlier this week.
Spell was arrested March 31 and charged with six misdemeanors after allegedly violating an executive order by Governor John Bel Edwards. The order prohibits gatherings larger than 50 people.