Tony Spell
A Louisiana pastor will be charged on six counts of misdemeanor for holding services in defiance of Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards's stay at home order.

Tony Spell, pastor of the Life Tabernacle Church near Baton Rouge, was arrested Tuesday morning. He faces individual charges for each time he held a service in his church that exceeded the 10-person limit set by Edwards, according to the local CBS affiliate. Spell faces a $500 fine and up to six months in prison, according to East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore.

Throughout March, Spell boasted about holding services attended by hundreds of people even as the state restricted the number of people who could gather from 50 to 10. Spell said he would continue to hold services, calling the shutdown orders "politically motivated."

After police broke up a March 18 service, which more than 300 people attended, Spell said that the state was trampling upon his First Amendment rights.

"We hold our religious rights dear, and we are going to assemble no matter what someone says," he said.

At that service, Spell told his congregation to "not let the fear of persecution of any government official, any dictator law, prevent you from worshiping God, which our First Amendment states you are not allowed to do in any form."

"Our church is a hospital where the sick can come and get healing," he said in his sermon. "Cancers are healed here, people are healed of HIV in these services, and we believe that tonight, we're also going to pass out anointed handkerchiefs to people who may have a fear, who may have a sickness, and we believe that when those anointed handkerchiefs go, that healing virtue is going to go on them as well."

Spell continued to hold services, sometimes attracting more than 1,000 people. When Edwards expressed disappointment that Spell would not comply with the shutdown orders, the pastor called the governor's classification of churches as "nonessential" entities a "persecution of the faith."