A controversial US pastor who has been in trouble with the law over his refusal to obey lockdown orders has once again defied his state's stay-at-home mandate by holding a busy in-person church service. Pastor Tony Spell proudly revealed his electronic tag to the congregation at Life Tabernacle Church as he hosted a morning service on Sunday, with footage showing a packed sanctuary of worshippers, minimal social distancing practices and very few face masks being worn.
"We're not hiding anymore," declared the pastor, who was on bail and is reported to have broken his house arrest by turning up at the service.
“I’ve just got to get to Jesus... Come on America, let’s get back to Jesus," he could be heard saying. Spell went on to assure the congregation that, if they mustered up enough faith, the COVID-19 virus would not infect them.
"Shouldn’t nobody be scared right now but the devil,” he declared. "God gave you an immune system to kill that virus. Come out of your hiding, America. Worship like free people.”
In a Facebook Live video posted by Central City News, Spell could be seen singing and playing the piano in his home, before a man wearing gloves and a face mask starts fitting him with the tag.
"This house arrest is to prevent me from preaching," Spell could be heard saying. "That's the judge's words. I do not have the right to preach in my church. Don't let anybody spin that."
"This is not about anything else but forbidding me from going to church and preach to my people."
During his tag fitting, Spell called the arrest "an unethical, illegal, unscrupulous attempt to silence the voice of this preacher."
Spell's blatant rejection of the lockdown law is not the only reason he's in trouble with the police; the pastor is also facing investigation on charges of aggravated assault after footage emerged of him reversing a church bus at speed towards a protestor who was stood outside his church.