Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Al Sharpton Pleads for Black Churches to Cease Church Services Amid Coronavirus Crisis

*Rev. Al Sharpton has called on Black church leaders to discontinue all services that are not online amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

His announcement comes after two pastors were arrested for ignoring state mandates to cease church gatherings to help curb the spread of the deadly virus.  

In a video conference earlier this week, Sharpton spoke with church leaders including the Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson of the Conference of National Black Churches, about the importance of pastors delaying services at least through Easter Sunday, ajc.com reports. 

“The public appeal is being made following the arrest of a Louisiana megachurch pastor for holding Sunday services & a separate criminal action against a Florida pastor, who held services over the weekend w/ large crowds, willfully violating a local coronavirus stay-at-home order,” he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

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Louisiana’s District Attorney Hillar Moore confirmed Tuesday that Tony Spell, pastor of Life Tabernacle Church, is facing six misdemeanor counts of disobeying the powers of the governor following his decision to host multiple large church gatherings.

Spell believes if Walmart can remain open, so can his church, which is why he has vowed to keep its doors open.

“We are needy people. Our souls are lost,” he said. “We need help, and the church is the salvation center of the soul, the sanctuary where we come together and meet.”

“Mr. Spell will have his day in court where he will be held responsible for his reckless and irresponsible decisions that endangered the health of his congregation and our community,” Chief Roger Corcoran with Central Police Department said in a statement. “This is not an issue over religious liberty, and it’s not about politics. We are facing a public health crisis and expect our community’s leaders to set a positive example and follow the law.”

In related news, Rodney Howard-Browne has been charged with unlawful assembly and violation of a public health emergency order in Hernando County, Florida, after holding two services Sunday at his River at Tampa Bay Church, with hundreds in attendance for both, according to ajc.com

“We are not a non-essential service,” Howard-Browne said during the service. “You’re probably going to get infected at some other place, not here.”

Sharpton condemned Spell and Howard-Browne for disobeying the law and not encouraging their church members to practice social-distancing. 

“These separate incidents involving leaders of faith putting people’s lives in danger is not a matter of civil or human rights, nor is it a statement of faith,” Sharpton said.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.

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