Embattled La. pastor asks members of church to donate stimulus checks

Pastor Tony Spell speaks to media after holding an evening service at the Life Tabernacle...
Pastor Tony Spell speaks to media after holding an evening service at the Life Tabernacle Church in Central, La., Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Spell did so despite being charged with misdemeanors today, for holding services against Gov. John Bel Edwards shelter-in-place order due to the new coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Published: Apr. 20, 2020 at 10:17 AM CDT
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A Louisiana pastor who defied the governor’s orders and repeatedly held large church services during the coronavirus pandemic is now asking congregates to donate their stimulus checks to the church.

Tony Spell, the pastor at Life Tabernacle Church in Central, La., has launched the #PastorSpellStimulusChallenge, asking Americans to donate their government stimulus checks to evangelists, missionaries, and music ministers who he said have not received offerings in over a month.

Spell says he, his wife, and son have all donated their checks.

Spell appeared on CNN’s New Day Weekend on Sunday. Host Victor Blackwell questioned his decision to ask congregants for their government-issued funds.

"To say to people who you know don’t have much, you have to go and pick them up to bring them to your church, to then ask them to hand over the $1,200, the only money some people will have, and you have another option,” Blackwell posed. “Why not give that money to them? And why isn’t this a time for the church to give to those who do not have?”

“We are giving to those who do not have.” Spell answered. “We are challenging you, if you can, give your stimulus package to evangelists and missionaries who do not get the package. They don’t file taxes the way you and I do, Victor.”

Spell decided not to file for the Payroll Protection Program that was passed by Congress last month.

“We do not want SBA loans,” Spell defended. “We don’t want the government to give us a dime. We are happy to provide for ourselves. Never will our federal or state government put one penny into our church, because the second they do, they control us.”

Nonprofits and faith-based ministries had the option to apply for the government benefit in order to pay evangelists and foreign missionaries who needed the stimulus checks of congregants to “give them a large offering.”

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