UPDATE: Pastor of Louisiana church charged, accused of disobeying governor’s order
The pastor of a church in Central, La. will be charged with six misdemeanor counts of disobeying the powers of the governor, prosecutors said Tuesday.
On Tuesday, March 31, Chief Roger Corcoran with Central Police Department issued Mark Anthony Spell, (Aka: Tony Spell), Pastor of Life Tabernacle Church in Central, a Misdemeanor Summons for six counts of violating the governor’s executive order (LA R.S. 29:724E) following his decision to host multiple large gatherings.
“Over the last two weeks I have worked with the Sheriff, State Police the State Fire Marshal, Reverend Tony Perkins and others to address this matter outside of legal action. Mr. Spell made his intentions to continue to violate the law clear,” he said in a statement. "Instead of showing the strength and resilience of our community during this difficult time, Mr. Spell has chosen to embarrass us for his own self-promotion.
"Mr. Spell will 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. We are facing a public health crisis and expect our community’s leaders to set a positive example and follow the law.”
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore says one count was issued for each time Spell allegedly held a gathering at his church that exceeded the limit set by the governor.
Spell has continually disobeyed orders by Governor John Bel Edwards that large groups should not gather during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. He has held multiple church services with hundreds in attendance.
Here is the section of Louisiana law Spell is accused of violating:
RS 29:724 — Powers of the governor. A. The governor is responsible for meeting the dangers to the state and people presented by emergencies or disasters, and in order to effectuate the provisions of this Chapter, the governor may issue executive orders, proclamations, and regulations and amend or rescind them.