Louisiana Pastor Believes Citizens Should Give Their Stimulus Money to Their Churches

As citizens began collecting COVID-19 stimulus funds this week, a Louisiana megachurch pastor wants them to keep in mind the things above.

It is with this ambition that Tony Spell, of the Life Tabernacle Church in the Baton Rouge suburb of Central, Louisiana, created the campaign “#PastorSpellStimulusChallenge.” It encourages followers to send funds that they’ve received from the government to evangelists and missionaries.

Pastor Tony Spell. (Photo: Life Tabernacle Church)

Spell, who has bumped heads with law enforcement officials for holding in-person services at the church — which has significant mix of children and elderly as its attendees — made the call via YouTube Wednesday in hopes that the public rallies around the cause.

There are three rules for the challenge, according to Spell. First, the challenge is set to begin on Sunday, April 19. Second, one must donate their stimulus money. Third, the money should be given to North American evangelists, missionaries, or music ministers who haven’t had an offering in a month.

“I’m donating my entire stimulus, $1,200. My wife is donating her stimulus, $1,200. My son is donating his stimulus, $600,” Spell says in the YouTube video.

Some viewers felt Spell’s request was an overreach, considering current family struggles amid the pandemic.

“Sad af. People need to feed and pay rent,” one Twitter user said.

“So he want people that are laid off or unemployed to get him the little bit of money they do have…… wow…. the devil is busy,” another user replied.

Others simply had no words.

The call follows an order from Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards last month prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people as part of the state’s stay-at-home mandate — the violation carrying a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $500 fine.

However, two weeks after the order was mandated Spell was found in violation after he refused to temporarily discontinue his services amid the pandemic. He was issued with a misdemeanor summons of six counts of violating the mandate.

It was later reported that one of his parishioners died of the highly contagious respiratory infection after attending the church’s Easter Sunday service, but Spell has denied that the man’s illness was a direct result of the group’s gathering. Additionally, Spell actually rejected the local coroner’s finding that the man died of the disease, saying to local station WVLA of the parishioner, identified as 78-year-old Harold Orillion, that he “died of a broken heart” after his son died the previous week, and “Harold did not have coronavirus, he was never on ventilator, he did not have COVID-19.”

See the video below.

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