AN eccentric pastor has showed off his ankle monitor while on bail for allegedly attacking someone protesting his lockdown-flouting church services.
Footage shows Pastor Tony Spell of Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, showing off his ankle bracelet to the packed congregation as he tells them: "We're not hiding anymore."
The pastor was hit by a swathe of criticism for failing to hold virtual church services.
He initially told CBS he continues to hold services "Because the Lord told us to do so."
In late March, Central Police announced six misdemeanor charges against Spell – one for each church service he is alleged to have held against governor's orders amid the coronavirus lockdowns.
'THE LORD TOLD US TO DO IT'
But the following month he was booked again – this time for allegedly backing up a bus towards a protester.
Spell was arrested on Tuesday after he turned himself in, Central Police said, and released on bail.
Video shared by WAFB showed the Louisiana pastor being handcuffed by police.
"Don't take my Bible. Don't take my Bible!" Spell said as he was being arrested.
Chief Roger Corcoran issued the warrant "for aggravated assault (RS 14:37) based on video evidence of an incident that occurred on April 19, 2020," police said Monday night.
Central Police said that Spell allegedly backed up a church bus toward a protester standing in front of the Baton Rouge Church, WAFB reported.
'WE'RE SOCIAL DISTANCING'
But the pastor has since been videoed appearing to flout his bail conditions – one of which says he cannot hold any more services – preaching to scores of people inside his packed church.
He tells them to adhere to "social distancing," wrongly instructing worshippers that this means not touching anyone who isn't from your household.
Social distancing means staying at least 2 metres apart and avoiding large gatherings – for instance a church service.
He also tells them: "It's a dirty, rotten, crying shame when you have to hide in America."
Adding: "This is a free country, if you're not afraid, do what you want."
The pastor also came under fire for urging Americans to donate their stimulus checks to church.
He said in a YouTube video: "Number one: April the 19, 2020, it begins. Rule number two: Donate your stimulus money.
"Rule number three: Donate it to evangelists – North American evangelists, who haven't had an offering in a month. Missionaries, who haven't had an offering in a month. Music ministers, who haven't had an offering in a month," Spell urged.
He added: ""If you don't have a church, give through my website."
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