Called Out

CNN anchor grills pastor who wants parishioners to hand over stimulus checks: ‘Isn’t this a time for the church to give?’

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During a segment on CNN this Sunday, anchor Victor Blackwell pressed Louisiana Christian pastor Tony Spell over his stimulus “challenge,” where he called on church members to donate their stimulus checks to church initiatives and activities.

In a video posted to his YouTube channel last week, Spell challenged members of his Life Tabernacle church to donate their stimulus money to “North American evangelists” who’ve been financially impacted by the coronavirus fallout. Blackwell asked Spell why he would ask his followers to hand over their stimulus money when he knows many of them are financially struggling.

“You’re now are asking people who you know in your congregation who don’t have much, who can’t even get to you without you going to pick them up, to hand over the $1,200 stimulus check. Why?” Blackwell asked.

Spell replied that the “Pastor Spell Stimulus Challenge” is to “help people who do not get stimuluses, such as evangelists and missionaries.”

“So this morning, these evangelists and foreign missionaries who have not had payroll in five weeks now will be in my service this morning where we’ll give them a large cash offering,” Spell said.

Blackwell then interrupted, pointing out that non-profits and faith-based organizations can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program. Spell countered that he doesn’t want to receive funds from the government, to which Blackwell reminded Spell that he’s making a conscious choice to refuse government funds.

“…to say that people who you know don’t have much, you have to go and pick them up to bring them to your church, to then ask them to hand over the $1,200, the only money some people will have, and you have another option, why not give that money to them?” Blackwell said. “And why isn’t this a time for the church to give to those who do not have?”

Spell has made a name for himself by refusing to shutter his Baton Rouge-based Life Tabernacle Church as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the U.S. Earlier this month, he said that he believes truly devoted Christians won’t mind dying from COVID-19.

Watch the full exchange below:


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