With Easter and Palm Sunday coming up soon, Rev. Al Sharpton called leaders of the nation’s largest historically Black churches, and other faith leaders, to urge them not to hold in-person services during the global pandemic.
In a video conference call on Wednesday (April 1), Sharpton spoke with several Black church leaders about discontinuing “services that are not online.” The conference call was fueled in part by a Louisiana megachurch pastor being arrested for holding a church service and a funeral over the last week.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Pastor Tony Spell of Life Tabernacle Church, was charged with six counts of disobeying power of government after holding a funeral last week with more than 100 mourners, and a church service on Tuesday (March 31) evening.
I convened a call with the heads of the nation’s largest historically Black religious denominations & other faith leaders to call on clergy to refrain from having church services as we head into Palm Sunday and Easter Holy Week. pic.twitter.com/TygPkhTD0g
— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) April 1, 2020
Spell “willfully” violated the “local coronavirus stay-at-home order,” Sharpton reportedly said on Wednesday.
“I have been arrested over thirty times for civil rights & civil disobedience — twice for ninety days & another forty-five days for standing up for people’s civil and human rights,” Sharpton tweeted. “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 testament of faith.”
Florida megachurch pastor Rodney Howard-Browne was also arrested for holding two church services this past Sunday (March 29). Following his arrest, Howard-Browne said that he had no choice but to temporarily shut the church down. “I have to do this to protect the congregation — not from the virus but from a tyrannical government.”
Howard-Browne could have the two misdemeanor charges against him dropped after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis deemed places of worship as “essential business” in a mandatory statewide stay-at-home order issued Wednesday.