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Pastor defies house arrest, leads Sunday service with more than 100 congregants despite stay-at-home order

Pastor Tony Spell speaks to media after holding an evening service at Life Tabernacle Church in Central, La., Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Spell is facing misdemeanor charges for holding services previously despite a ban on gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Pastor Tony Spell speaks to media after holding an evening service at Life Tabernacle Church in Central, La., Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Spell is facing misdemeanor charges for holding services previously despite a ban on gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

A Louisiana pastor continues to lead services in his church, rather than online, defying house arrest orders that followed an assault charge, Fox10 reports.

A livestream from Life Tabernacle Church on Sunday shows pastor Tony Spell walking among more than 100 congregants, often repeating the phrase, “I’ve just got to get to Jesus. ... Come on America, let’s get back to Jesus."

According to Fox10, nearly everyone in attendance was not wearing face masks, and social distancing was not being practiced.

Spell’s recent arrest was in relation to his decision to continue holding mass gatherings.

The police department in Central, a suburb Baton Rouge, says on their Facebook page that Spell turned himself in last week on charges of aggravated assault and improper backing.

Spell admitted to authorities that he drove his church bus toward a man, Trey Bennett, who has been protesting his decision to hold mass gatherings in defiance of public health orders during the coronavirus pandemic, KPRC reported via Associated Press last week.

Protestor Trey Bennett holds a sign towards members of the Life Tabernacle Church waiting outside the East Baton Rouge Parish jail for Pastor Tony Spell to post bond in Baton Rouge, La., Tuesday, April 21, 2020. Louisiana authorities arrested the pastor on an assault charge on Tuesday after he admitted that he drove his church bus toward Bennett, who has been protesting Spell's decision to hold mass gatherings in defiance of public health orders during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Protestor Trey Bennett holds a sign towards members of the Life Tabernacle Church waiting outside the East Baton Rouge Parish jail for Pastor Tony Spell to post bond in Baton Rouge, La., Tuesday, April 21, 2020. Louisiana authorities arrested the pastor on an assault charge on Tuesday after he admitted that he drove his church bus toward Bennett, who has been protesting Spell's decision to hold mass gatherings in defiance of public health orders during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Fox10 reports that Trey Bennett has kept up a one-man demonstration in front Life Tabernacle Church since Easter when he noticed hundreds still attending services in defiance of Lousiana’s stay-at-home mandate, which bans gatherings of more than 10 people.

About 70 of Spell’s parishioners met him at the East Baton Rouge Parish prison, dressed in their Sunday best, arrived in church buses to show support, KPRC previously reported.

Members of the Life Tabernacle Church sing spiritual songs and hold their hands in the air as they wait for pastor Tony Spell to leave the East Baton Rouge Parish jail in Baton Rouge, La., Tuesday, April 21, 2020. Louisiana authorities arrested the pastor on an assault charge on Tuesday after he admitted that he drove his church bus toward a man who has been protesting his decision to hold mass gatherings in defiance of public health orders during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Members of the Life Tabernacle Church sing spiritual songs and hold their hands in the air as they wait for pastor Tony Spell to leave the East Baton Rouge Parish jail in Baton Rouge, La., Tuesday, April 21, 2020. Louisiana authorities arrested the pastor on an assault charge on Tuesday after he admitted that he drove his church bus toward a man who has been protesting his decision to hold mass gatherings in defiance of public health orders during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

According to Fox10, the pastor eventually walked out of the jail to applause from his supporters, after being bailed out by his wife. Online booking records indicate bail was set at $175.


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