As we draw near to the ending of the nation’s shutdown of the economy and churches, we can find Pastor Tony Spell of Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, back in the news for defying the governor’s orders again. We can also see a vision of a battle between Heaven and Hell on earth in a church parking lot where neither man is right or wrong as both are fighting for their constitutional rights.
This battle between Pastor Spell and a local protester Trey Bennett has been ongoing for several weeks. Pastor Spell refuses to end his church services, and Bennett refuses to put down his signs and to end his protest. Pastor Spell found himself arrested, and both men claim victory.
The battle between constitutional rights and the public’s health and safety have clashed across the United States. Many claim our freedoms have been infringed upon and are fighting to keep them. Both the Pastor and Bennett have gained support and haters alike during the lockdowns as both are passionate over their beliefs.
As the restrictions across the nation ease up, more and more places are going to find these scenarios. Bennett has seen good, and evil comes out of his protest as many claims he is doing God’s work. Others see it as he is doing the devil’s work as one passerby told him from his vehicle, “Bless this church and people of faith, may you burn in hell.”
Over 1,800 people attend the Life Tabernacle Church, and this month alone, Spell has been issued misdemeanor citations for defying Governor John Bel Edward’s orders. The law enforcement also warned him they would fine him $500 fines for each violation and 90 days in prison. Spell continued preaching.
Two members of the church were said to have contracted COVID-19. One died, and the other was sent back home over the weekend and recovered. The churchgoer who died was a 78-year-old Army Veteran who was healthy. Spell said he spoke with the family, and they do not believe he died of COVID-19 but wished his death to remain private.
As for Bennett, he decided to step up and protest after the request from Vice President Mike Pence to all the governors and churches to not have gatherings for the Easter services. Pastor Spell did not follow the orders and went ahead with the services.
Bennett stated, “It was time to do something. People’s lives are more important than the right to assemble. I don’t want to get coronavirus, and I don’t want it spread around my area. We already have higher rates of coronavirus in Baton Rouge.”
Bennett went through the mayor’s office and the Baton Rouge Police office to see if he was within his rights to protest on the road in front of the church. He was allowed and commenced to protest beginning Easter Sunday. His signs of protest read, “Coronavirus incubator,” “Close this church,” and Danger: Death can occur.”
Bennett told reporters after he had received messages of support and approvals. Those who attended the church simply said they would pray for him.
During the times of his protest, Bennett said he didn’t meet the pastor but did receive alleged false accusations from him. Bennett responded, “He constantly wants to make it about violations of his constitutional rights when he’s the one violating my constitutional rights.”
Recently, Bennett was protesting when he noticed two white buses belonging to the church almost back up over him. Pastor Spell was behind the wheel of one of the buses. Bennett told reporters, “I assumed he was just turning his bus around until he kept backing up. Suddenly, there’s a bus in my face.”
Police were notified and charged Pastor Spell with aggravated assault. Bennett continued to tell reporters, “He had given the person with the least power a great platform to stop him. I didn’t have any ability to physically stop him from going to his church. He handed me that ability, and the police took care of the rest.”
Pastor Spell was released on a $5,000 bail and forced into house arrest. Again this past weekend, Pastor Spell carried out with is services. The court informed him he violated the conditions of his bail. Spell sent a message to the judge which read from Scripture, “1 Peter 3:14, “If ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled.” Who can argue with that?