On the CNN program New Day Weekend, host Victor Blackwell had some questions for a Louisiana pastor whose church continues to hold large gatherings despite the fact that he has been arrested for doing so. Last week, Governor John Bel Edwards charged Pastor Anthony “Tony” Spell with violating the executive order he issued, prohibiting churches from holding large gatherings.
Sunday’s service at Spell’s Life Tabernacle Church was attended by roughly 1,800 people, HuffPost reports, and hundreds more followers gathered at the church when Spell’s interview with Blackwell ended.
“We believe the science of this,” he told the CNN host. “However, we do have a command from God and there are no governing bodies that can tell us we cannot gather and worship freely.”
Blackwell asked Spell if he believes the science that shows people who gather in larger groups are likelier to be infected with the virus.
“Yes, we believe the science,” Spell said, adding that many people who are infected “don’t even know they have it,” and frequently recover. “People have been locked up in their homes for 22 days now. … And the hope is the last stronghold in these people’s lives.”
That prompted Blackwell to ask:
“If you believe the science — and I assume you are pro-life, is that correct?”
Spell affirmed that he is pro-life.
Blackwell zeroed in, pushing further.
“How is this a pro-life stance to put people in jeopardy of contracting a disease, getting a virus that has no treatment, no cure, often has no symptoms and has killed more than [8,500 people in the U.S.] in five weeks?” Blackwell asked the evangelical pastor.
Spell answered that “people’s hope is in the house of God.”
“If they do contract the virus, if they have fears of the virus, the church is more essential now than ever,” he added. “There is a physician in Jesus Christ.”
He also added “we were supposed to be at a million-and-a-half body bags. We’re at 8,400. So the narrative is false.”
Louisiana is now considered one of the nation’s hotspots for the virus, with more than 13,000 confirmed cases and 477 deaths. Nationwide, more than 331,000 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, resulting in more than 9,400 deaths.