State Watch

Louisiana attorney general urges governor to reopen churches

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Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) is calling on Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) to reopen churches in the state after Edwards extended the state’s stay-at-home orders through May 15. 

“As other states begin reopening and unrest in the Legislature continues, I believe many faith-based congregations will begin to meet with or without guidance,” Landry wrote in a letter to Edwards, according to local ABC affiliate KATC.

“We are better served by taking a proactive approach by publishing reopening guidelines that take a phased approach to faith services restarting,” he continued. “Without guidance based on best practices in place, this could be disastrous.”

Louisiana has experienced one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the South, with more than 28,700 confirmed cases as of Friday afternoon, and nearly 2,000 deaths.

Edwards said earlier this week that on May 11 he will make an announcement about the next phase of coronavirus plans in the state, and hopes he will be able to end the stay-at-home order and restrictions on houses of worship, restaurants and other businesses.

At least one Louisiana pastor has gained notoriety for defying the governor’s orders and holding massive, in-person church services. Pastor Tony Spell was also arrested last month after he backed up a bus toward a protester.

Earlier in April, Spell held an Easter service that drew hundreds, saying before the event: “Satan and a virus will not stop us. God will shield us from all harm and sickness. We are not afraid. We are called by God to stand against the Antichrist creeping into America’s borders. We will spread the Gospel.”

Health experts have advised against large gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic and encouraged distancing, hand-washing, and face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Tags churches Coronavirus COVID-19 Governor Louisiana restrictions Tony Spell

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