Pastor Tony Spell pointing his finger

Tony Spell/YouTube

Defiant pastor tells followers to give their entire stimulus checks to churches

'If you don't have a church, give through my website,' says the pastor who recently held an Easter Sunday service with hundreds in attendance.

Apr 16, 2020, 6:47 pm

IRL

Mikael Thalen 

Mikael Thalen

An evangelical pastor out of Louisiana is urging his followers to donate their entire stimulus checks to churches.

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Tony Spell, pastor of the Life Tabernacle Church, made the request in a video posted to YouTube on Wednesday.

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Dubbing his call the #PastorSpellStimulusChallenge, the religious leader pushed his viewers to hand over their checks this Sunday to evangelists, missionaries, and music ministers “who haven’t had an offering in a month.”

Spell goes on to assert that he, his wife, and his son all plan to donate their checks and that fellow christians should do the same.

“If you don’t have a church, give through my website,” the pastor says.

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The initiative has not been well received. Spell’s YouTube video currently has nearly 10,000 downvotes and just 93 upvotes. Commenters on the video have argued that their stimulus checks would be better suited for groceries and other necessities.

“How about you DONATE your Stimulus Check to the FOOD BANK to HELP FEED those who need FOOD!” user Vickey Vicknair wrote.

Others noted the fact that Spell recently held an Easter Sunday service with hundreds in attendance despite social distancing recommendations.

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“How about you donating your personal wealth to all the people you have sickened by not following federal guidelines on distancing?” user Paul Aussendorf said.

Spell was recently charged with six misdemeanors this month after refusing to stop holding in-person church services.

“I cannot baptize people in a livestream. I can not lay hands on people in a livestream,” Spell told Insider at the beginning of April. “I cannot pray for people in a livestream, and this is our biblical command — to lay hands on the sick and when they recover baptize them by immersion in water, which we do every day.”

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Spell isn’t the only prominent Christian leader who has pushed back on attempts to clamp down on the pandemic.

Florida pastor Rodney Howard-Browne also held services late last month in defiance of state social distancing orders, which ultimately led to his arrest.

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*First Published: Apr 16, 2020, 6:47 pm