Conservative lightning rod Roy Moore, former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, went to the pulpit Thursday to support a Louisiana church defying state orders against mass rallies.
Moore appeared at Life Tabernacle Church in the city of Central to provide support and advice to Pastor Tony Spell, who faces criminal charges for continuously flouting state bans on large gatherings in response to the pandemic of coronavirus.
“There is no clearer violation of the First Amendment than this ban on meeting in a church,” said Moore.
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Spell has faced summons for the six services he has held since March 16, when Governor John Bel Edwards announced an order banning gatherings of more than 50 people. Spell said he welcomed about 500 worshipers to a Sunday service at the church in Central, a town of nearly 29,000 people near Baton Rouge.
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Moore chastised Edwards on Thursday and praised the governors of Texas and Florida for calling religious institutions an essential service.
“The governor of Texas opened churches for worship, no social distancing, nothing, a meeting in the church. And even today Florida did the same, “said Moore, shouting” hallelujah “in the room. “It is very wrong for anyone to issue an order that you cannot gather in a church. “
At a press conference filled with supporters, Spell hinted that his congregation could not test positive for the coronavirus.
“The virus is drawn to fear and we are fearless people,” he said.
An Edwards representative could not be reached immediately for comment on Thursday.
Moore lost a 2017 special election for an Alabama Senate seat to Doug Jones. Moore ran for seat again this year but finished fourth away in the GOP primary, which will be decided in a second round between former Senator Jeff Sessions and former University of football coach Auburn Tommy Tuberville.