CNN Anchor Grills Pastor Facing Charges for Continuing to Hold Large Services Despite Coronavirus Risk


CNN anchor Victor Blackwell confronted Pastor Tony Spell for defying public orders by keeping his church open and continuing to welcome his large congregation despite the public health risks.

The social distancing guidelines implemented by the CDC have given some houses of worship around the country the idea to find different ways to conduct services for those who still wish to do so (i.e. drive-thru services and prayers or live-streaming services online), but there have been a few instances of pastors just defying the guidelines.

Spell was charged with defying the executive order issued by the governor, and he appeared on CNN today to defend his decision to keep continuing services as normal.

Blackwell asked Spell about the risk of a massive congregation gathering together at a time when states and officials like the surgeon general are emphasizing the importance of slowing the spread by following social distancing.

“We believe the science,” Spell said. “However, we do have a command from God, and there are no governing bodies that can tell us we cannot gather and worship freely.”

“If you believe the science, and I assume you are pro-life, correct?” Blackwell asked. “How is this a pro-life stance to put people in jeopardy of contracting a disease, getting a virus, that has no treatment, no cure, often has no symptoms, and has killed more than 8500 people – [as of] this morning – in our country in five weeks?”

“My response to that is people’s hope is in the house of God,” Spell answered. “If they do contract the virus, if they have fears of the virus, the church is more essential now than ever to pray with people.”

He also actually said, “We were supposed to be at a million and a half body bags, we’re at 8400. So the narrative is false, Victor.”

Spell went on to claim “this is an attack on religious liberty.” Blackwell jumped in to ask “what distinguishes your church” from many churches in the United States and across the globe who are respecting guidelines by finding different ways to hold services without putting people at risk.

“One word, conviction,” Spell responded.

You can watch above, via CNN.

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Josh Feldman is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: Follow him on Twitter: @feldmaniac