"Face Masks Used to Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus" by Nurse Together / CC BY-SA 4.0

COVID-Defying Pastor Loses Lawsuit Against LA Governor’s Pandemic Restrictions

Nov 12, 2020

By Hemant Mehta

You remember Pastor Tony Spell. The head of Louisiana’s Life Tabernacle Church was first arrested in April — remember April?! — for aggravated assault against a protester. But he became notorious for holding in-person church gatherings and putting countless people in harm’s way. Despite being under house arrest, he defied the law to preach at his nearby church multiple times a week, even asking supporters to send him portions of their stimulus checks.

Spell’s current legal troubles involve a lawsuit against Gov. John Bel Edwards for issuing an order that limits the size of gatherings, including church services. Spell claimed that violated his First Amendment rights.

But this week, U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson tossed those claims aside, saying essentially that churches aren’t being treated unfairly. If anything, they’ve been given more leeway than public institutions.

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