A Louisiana church has disregarded the official advice on social distancing and welcomed 1,800 people through its doors.
Despite the rampant coronavirus outbreak, over the weekend Life Tabernacle Church had 26 buses transport crowds of worshippers down to church for Sunday Service. The shocking act of defiance came despite a grave warning from the state’s governor and a plea for churches to temporarily cease operations.
“I would urge that faith leaders and all faith leaders to heed this directive and not necessarily engage in mass gatherings where this coronavirus can spread,” Gov. John Edwards said this week, as he issued a comprehensive “stay at home” order.
However, Life Tabernacle’s Pastor Tony Spell said he would be openly defying the advice and believing God for the protection of his flock.
"That is our command. 'They shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover,'" Spell told WGMB. “When the paramedics can’t get there, when the law enforcement can’t get there, the holy ghost can get there it will make a difference in someone’s life."
If anyone in his congregation becomes infected with the COVID-19 virus, Spell insists that he will simply invoke the healing of the Holy Spirit. "I'm going to address that by laying hands on them and praying for them and depending on God to heal their body," he said.
Louisiana is one of the worst-affected states in the US, with almost 1,400 confirmed cases and 46 deaths.
According to CNN, at a news conference Sunday, Edwards said that his state was dealing with one of the fastest infection rates in the world.
Within the space of just a week, Louisiana has jumped from logging less than 100 cases to more than 1,000. "That's a ten-time increase in seven days," Edwards said. “In the last two weeks, our growth rate has been faster than any state or country in the world.”
"We've got to take action now."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Christin Lola
Will Maule is a British journalist who has spent the past several years working as a digital news editor. Since earning a degree in international relations and politics, Will has developed a particular interest in covering ethical issues, human rights and global religious persecution. Will's work has been featured in various outlets including The Spectator, Faithwire, CBN News, Spiked, The Federalist and Christian Headlines. Follow him on Twitter at @WillAMaule.