Pastor says his church members ‘don’t mind dying’ from coronavirus in the name of religious freedom

Louisiana pastor Anthony “Tony” Spell has made a name for himself by stubbornly refusing to shutter his Baton Rouge-based Life Tabernacle Church as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the U.S. Now, he says if any members of his church die from the virus, they’ll have willingly done so in the name of God and freedom.

In an interview with TMZ, Spell said he believes truly devoted Christians won’t mind dying from COVID-19. Instead, he said, they are afraid of living in fear, and that those who don’t feel this way shouldn’t be allowed to be free.

“People that prefer tyranny over freedom do not deserve freedom,” he said.

“People have been locked in their homes for 23 days now, like prisoners,” Spell added. “The only vent they have to their emotions is coming to the house of God and worshipping — like free people.”

Then the interviewer asked Spell what he would say to the family of a parishioner who’s died from the virus.

“I’d have to say that they died like free people fighting for their conviction,” he said. “People die in my church of cancer, HIV, AIDS…”

The pastor also had a warning for scientists, saying he’s not dismayed by medical authorities who say they believe most of the U.S. will be infected with the virus, even if only mildly so. He’s defiantly disobeyed Louisiana governor John Bel Edward’s stay-at-home orders by keeping his church open. His Palm Sunday service was attended by more than 1,000 people.

“Scientists need to know that God gave us a strong immune system and the only way we’re going to destroy this virus is for — they say everybody’s gonna get it, then if everybody’s gonna get it, then let’s get on with life.”


Megan Hamilton

Megan Hamilton has traveled extensively throughout the Southern United States, Mexico, and parts of Central America. A lifelong atheist, these travels have informed her political views. She currently lives in a remote location with a large herd of cats and four dogs.