Inspired by their pastor who defies coronavirus measures, churchgoers in the U.S. state of Louisiana have violated social distancing ordinances, again.
Life Tabernacle Church in Central, Louisiana was brimful with parishioners despite a ban on gatherings amid the virus pandemic, according to WAFB-TV, a local affiliate of the national CBS channel.
Pastor Tony Spell, who was issued a summons earlier for carrying on services at the church in violation of the governor's order, defiantly said he is going to keep the church doors open for the people who are "needy" and whose "souls are lost".
Surrounded by fellow church members on his way out of the church on Tuesday night, he added that "the church is the salvation center of the soul, the sanctuary where we come together and meet" at a time when over 4,000 Americans have died and nearly 200,000 infected with the COVID-19 illness.
In his emailed statement to CBS News on Monday, Spell said 1,265 people attended the church service on Sunday, and vowed to continue their "constitutional right to congregate".
He added that his church is "cleaner" than Walmarts or gas stations, which are open.
'God don't like stupid'
Pastor Spell has a steady track record in downplaying the coronavirus.
Earlier this month, he told WAFB that the "politically motivated virus" was "not a concern."
"We hold our religious rights dear and we are going to assemble no matter what someone says," he added.
One of the protesters held a sign that said "God don't like stupid."
Louisiana, as one of the worst-hit states in the country, has more than 5,200 infection cases and 239 deaths, according to its health department.
The order from Gov. John Bel Edwards prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people.
The number of people in the U.S. who have died from the novel coronavirus has surpassed the 4,000 mark, according to data released early Wednesday by Johns Hopkins University.
The university's running tally counted 4,090 deaths and over 189,700 cases as the U.S. struggles to curb the outbreak.
The new mark came hours after President Donald Trump warned that the next two weeks will be “very painful" in the U.S. in terms of deaths from the virus.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.