It’s been called the most important case for religious freedom in our nation’s history. Spell v. Edwards involves a pastor who refused to halt services amid COVID regulations. A legal advocacy group in Alabama took the case and won a victory for religious freedom. However, the fight is not over.

The Foundation for Moral Law, headquartered in Montgomery, represented pastor Tony Spell of Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge, La. The Pentecostal church has a congregation of around 2,000.

In 2020, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards prohibited churches from gathering with more than 10 people. There was no such restriction for grocery stores, retail shops and liquor stores, and Spell was unwilling to listen to man over God. So, he continued his church services and was subsequently arrested and charged with six misdemeanors.

Spell was told by a judge he could not preach and put an ankle monitor on him. However, that didn’t stop Spell from listening to God, and he continued to spread the gospel.

Eventually, the Louisiana Supreme Court quashed the criminal charges against Spell. However, the damage had been done, and the Foundation for Moral Law took the case further, hoping to vindicate Spell after years of legal battles.

Judge Roy Moore, the founder of the Foundation for Moral Law, took the case to a federal level to defend Spell and the religious population nationwide.

“He’s been mocked, ridiculed and embarrassed simply because he stood for his duty to preach the gospel,” Moore stated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in October 2022.

Moore accused the governor of abuse of power and said the state exceeded its discretionary authority and violated Spell’s Constitutional rights. The court dismissed the federal lawsuit, but Spell has now filed a petition for writ of certiorari, asking SCOTUS to review that decision.

Air Force Lt. Col. John Eidsmoe (Ret.), with the Foundation for Moral Law, said this case is about preserving the purpose of the Constitution and the framers of it.

“Really the question is a matter of jurisdiction. The state has no authority to close churches than the church has to close state offices,” said Eidsmoe.

If the SCOTUS takes up the case, oral arguments will be the next step in the process. In the meantime, Eidsmoe said Spell is stronger today than ever.

“He is a strong man of God,” Eidsmoe added. “His faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word. Throughout all of this, even when he was under the charges, his faith never wavered.”

Since the case was presented to the appeals court, law schools across the nation have used the arguments in discussions and for learning opportunities.

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