Mark Anthony (Tony) Spell, who was charged this week with six misdemeanor counts of disobeying the powers of the governor for defying the state’s ban on public gatherings amid the coronavirus crisis after holding packed church services, is planning to do it again Sunday morning.
Spell told CNN’s Victor Blackwell: “This morning, yes, sir, 10:00 AM. We will actually run our buses. We have 27 buses that we cover in a 50-mile radius of our city. We bring people in to the house of God, feed them both natural food and spiritual food and then we go back into our respective places. It takes us about eight hours to run this service on Sunday morning and then we come back in tonight. … Last Sunday we had 1,800 in attendance. This Sunday with the fear that’s been propagated into the hearts of my people, I don’t know, it may have had an adverse effect and we may have more people today than last week.”
Said Blackwell: “There is an order from the governor there barring gatherings of 50 or more. The scientists who advise him suggest that the gatherings put the people coming to your church, 1,800 last week and whomever will show up this woke in danger. Do you believe them?”
“We believe the science of this, Victor,” Spell replied. “However, we do have a command from God, and there are no governing bodies that can tell us we cannot worship and gather freely.”
Asked Blackwell: “Do you believe the science that people who are in these large gatherings close together are at a greater risk of contracting this deadly — disease, this virus? Do you believe the science?”
“Yes, we believe the science,” Spell replied. “We also believe that 99.3, which the science says of the people that contract it, a lot of them don’t even know they have it and recover and then, with that also, we’re more interested. People have been locked up in their homes for 22 days now, suicide, domestic violence, starvation and the hope is the last stronghold in those people’s lives.”
Blackwell countered: “If you believe the science – and I assume you are pro-life. … 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 8,400 people, 8,500 people this morning in our country in five weeks”
“My response to that is people’s hope is in the house of God,” replied Blackwell. “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, to let them know there is a balm in Gilead, a physician in Jesus Christ. He is the healer; come under you all that are weary and heavy-laden, let me give you rest. We were supposed to be at a million and a half body bags and we’re at 4,800 so the narrative is false, Victor.”
“Is this about self promotion?” Blackwell asked.
Replied Spell: “If this were about self-promotion, then I would livestream and televise my services, which we have the ability to do but we refuse to because the word of God commands us to assemble together.”