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Louisiana Pastor Who Has Roy Moore on His Legal Team Faces New Charge for Backing Up a Bus at a Protestor

A defiant Louisiana pastor who is reportedly facing criminal charges for backing up his bus in a manner meant to intimidate a protestor has Roy Moore in his corner.

Life Tabernacle Church pastor Tony Spell has been undeterred by the coronavirus pandemic and the numerous misdemeanor charges he’s been hit with for violating the orders of Gov. John Bel Edwards (D). Spell has continued to pack his church with hundreds of congregants on Sundays.

Jeff Witterbrink, one of the attorneys who’s represented Spell, has reportedly contracted COVID-19. That means that Roy Moore, the widely known former Alabama chief justice and former Senate candidate, is going to defend Spell for a spell. And that’s because Spell is wanted on a new aggravated assault charge due to the Sunday incident shown in the video below.

Moore is part of the pastor’s legal team.

Central Police Chief Roger Corcoran said, according to the Washington Post, that Spell is “trying to hide behind the First Amendment.”

“No one has asked him not to preach the word or preach a service. We just ask that he adhere to the order that was given by the governor and the president, put it on social media or FaceTime like the other churches, but he’s refused to do that,” Corcoran said, adding—even more disturbingly—that Spell “has said that he has healed HIV, he’s healed cancer, he’s asked people with coronavirus to come to his church where he can heal them.”

“He can’t do that. It’s a huge health risk,” Corcoran said.

Spell reportedly claimed via text message that the protestor in the video has been protesting outside of the church for more than a month now. He suggested that he had to take matters into his own hands because police wouldn’t do anything about it. Spell noted that he hit the brakes when reversing the bus because the confrontation was a “waste of time.”

“I approached a man who verbally assaulted my wife and little girls. He’s a crotch-grabbing, middle-finger using against my church ladies. What would you do to a man like that?” Spell asked.

Spell has also disputed that transitioning to an online service would be doable since there are “healings, signs, wonders, some things done together in the church that can’t be done in a live stream.”

At the end of March, Spell made national news because he refused to abide by Gov. Edwards’s orders limiting the size of in-person gatherings.

“That is our command. ‘They shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover,’” Spell told local Fox affiliate 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.”

Spell also expressly dismissed concerns about the need for medicine if anyone in his congregation took ill with COVID-19. “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.

One of Spell’s parishioners reportedly died from coronavirus, but he later said that was a “lie.”

A month ago, Chief Corcoran said that Spell would “have his day in court where he will be held responsible for his reckless and irresponsible decisions that endangered the health of his congregation and our community.”

“This is not an issue over religious liberty, and it’s not about politics,” Corcoran said. “We are facing a public health crisis and expect our community’s leaders to set a positive example and follow the law.”

Spell said he didn’t have any plans of complying with the governor’s orders–“Because the Lord told us to [ignore them].”

Colin Kalmbacher contributed to this report.

[Image via Twitter screengrab]

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Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.