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Louisiana pastor who refuses to stop holding church services says 'true Christians' view death as a 'welcome friend'

The Hill logo The Hill 4/9/2020 J. Edward Moreno
a man holding a sign: Louisiana pastor who refuses to stop holding church services says 'true Christians' view death as a 'welcome friend' © The Hill Louisiana pastor who refuses to stop holding church services says 'true Christians' view death as a 'welcome friend'

A Louisiana pentecostal pastor who is refusing to abide by the state's "stay at home" order said "true Christians" see death as a "welcome friend."

"Like any zealot or like any pure religious person, death looks to them like a welcome friend. True Christians do not mind dying. They fear living in fear," Rev. Tony Spell, pastor of Life Tabernacle Church, told TMZ.

Spell said attending church from home - like millions of Americans have - "doesn't work."

Bing COVID-19 tracker: Latest numbers by country and state

"If it did work, why has America spent billions and billions building churches?" Spell asked.

Gallery by photo services

Spell was arrested on March 31 and charged with six misdemeanors for violating an executive order by Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) banning gatherings of more than 10 people. Central, La., Police Chief Roger Corcoran Spell's decision was "reckless and irresponsible."

The pastor reportedly held services again on Sunday, with hundreds of parishioners turning out to his church near Baton Rouge.

Florida megachurch pastor Rodney Howard-Browne was also arrested in March for hosting Sunday services at his church, The River at Tampa Bay, and was charged with misdemeanor counts of unlawful assembly and violating public health rules.

The pandemic appears to be hitting the country hardest just as many Americans prepare to celebrate religious holidays. Most will have to remain home during Easter celebrations as well as Ramadan, which begins later this month, and Passover, which began Wednesday evening.

Louisiana has seen a rise in cases as the pandemic makes its way toward different parts of the U.S. As of Wednesday evening, the state had reported over 17,000 confirmed cases and 652 deaths.

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