Coronavirus: Pastor urges people to donate stimulus cheques to churches

Pastor Tony Spell talks to his subscribers: (Tony Spell YouTube)
Pastor Tony Spell talks to his subscribers: (Tony Spell YouTube)

A Louisiana pastor has urged people to donate their coronavirus stimulus cheques to churches, amid extended stay-at-home orders.

Pastor Tony Spell, of the Life Tabernacle Church, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, posted a video to his YouTube channel, where he asked his subscribers to donate their cheques to churches and evangelists.

The stimulus package is intended to provide $1200 to every American who earns under $75,000 per year, as well as $500 to every family for every child under the age of 16, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this month, Louisiana extended its stay-at-home order until 30 April and governor John Bel Edwards banned gatherings of more than 10 people, effectively shutting churches.

Mr Spell named the challenge, the #PastorSpellStimulusChallenge and told his followers that churches have been without donations for too long.

“Donate it to evangelists, North American evangelists who haven’t had an offering in a month; missionaries, who haven’t had an offering in a month; music ministers, who haven’t had an offering in a month,” he said.

He added that “I’m donating my entire stimulus, $1,200,” and ”my wife is donating her stimulus, $1,200. My son is donating his stimulus, $600.”

He confirmed that people can donate to his challenge, via his website, from Saturday.

Last week, Mr Spell said that he planned to hold his Easter service, saying that “Satan and a virus will not stop us.”

He added that “we are not afraid. We are called by God to stand against the Antichrist creeping into America’s borders. We will spread the Gospel.”

Mr Spell went ahead with the service, despite being arrested and charged on 31 March, with six misdemeanours for violating Louisiana social distancing measures.

He criticised churches who held services via livestream, by saying that “we can’t do what God called us to do on livestream.”

Google’s dedicated coronavirus page shows that Louisiana has upwards of 21,518 confirmed cases and at least 1,013 deaths.

According to a tracking project hosted by Johns Hopkins University, nationally there are upwards of 671,493 people who have tested positive for coronavirus. The death toll has reached at least 33,288.

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