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Irresponsible: Faith leaders putting congregations at risk

Pastor Tony Spell, of the Life Tabernacle Church in Central, La., is intentionally putting the lives of his parishioners and the rest of the East Baton Rouge Parish community in danger. He — and a few elected officials and church “leaders” here in West Virginia who are pretending they believe COVID-19 guidance is an infringement upon their constitutional rights — are putting their own egos above the very urgent need to stop the spread of this deadly virus.

Spell appears to have cast one over 500 folks of all ages who willingly packed themselves into a church building over the weekend, despite widely accepted guidance from the medical community that such a gathering is a terrible idea. In addition to the facts coming from medical experts, however, Spell also ignored federal social distancing guidance, and an outright ban on such gatherings by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Edwards felt such a ban was necessary because his state is home to 3,500 residents with the virus, and already has seen 150 deaths. Worse, in terms of examining Spell’s thinking, 160 of those with the virus live in East Baton Rouge Parish. Other members of the community are right to be concerned.

“If they get out of church and go to the grocery store, it’s a serious health hazard,” said neighbor Paul Quinn.

There has been plenty of evidence that such gatherings are making this pandemic worse. One example comes from the Skagit Valley Chorale, in Mount Vernon, Wash., the leader of which decided to have choir practice on March 10, despite mounting guidance against it. Sixty of the group’s 121 members showed up, 45 of them have now been diagnosed with COVID-19. Two of them are dead.

Spell is certainly not the only person in a position of authority intentionally leading his followers into danger. But what he, or Rodney Howard-Brown, or Jerry Falwell Jr. are doing is criminally irresponsible.

People WILL get sick; some WILL die, because of their actions. This has everything to do with the power these men wish to wield, and absolutely nothing to do with faith.

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