Pastor Gets Angry At CNN Host Who Called Him Out For Asking Followers To Give Stimulus Money To The Church

Pastor Tony Snell leads Louisiana’s Life Tabernacle Church. He has been using buses to get the faithful to church services in defiance of social distancing guidelines due to the spread of COVID-19.

Paul Brennan/Public Domain Pictures; Lisa Brewster/Flickr

On Sunday, Snell appeared on CNN with host Victor Blackwell, who pointed out the appalling way that the pastor has been telling people to hand over their stimulus checks to the church instead of using them to survive during this crisis.

Snell’s first line of defense was to point out that many people have no internet access because they cannot afford it, and therefore cannot watch Sunday church online. That is when Blackwell broached the subject of what the pastor was asking people to do with their government checks:

“You now are asking people who you know in your congregation who don’t have much, can’t even get to you without you picking them up, to hand over the $1,200 stimulus check. Why?” 

Snell answered, clearly agitated:

“The Pastor Snell stimulus challenge is to help those who do not get stimulus such as evangelists and missionaries. So this morning, these evangelists and foreign missionary who have not had payments for five weeks now will be in the service this morning where we’ll give them a large offering.”

Blackwell then pointed out that churches can apply for the paycheck protection program.

Snell said, “We don’t want to.”

The host then informed Snell:

“But that is your choice. I just made sure that I printed out these from the Small Business Administration website. You have the option. My question is and I’ll let you answer. I will let you answer, but to say that people who you know don’t have much, you have to go and pick them up to bring them to your church to then ask them to hand over the $1,200, the only money some people will have, and you have another option, why not give that money to them and why isn’t this a time for the church to give to those who do not have?”

Snell then answered:

“We are giving to those who do not have. Number one, I said, this is a challenge. We are challenging you, if you can, give your stimulus package to evangelists and missionaries who do not get the package. They don’t file taxes the way you and I do, Victor. Secondly, we are giving to those people who are the most needy, okay? We are giving to them and we do not want SBA loans. We don’t want the government to give us a dime. We are happy to provide for ourselves, never will our federal or state government put one penny into our church, because the second they do, they control us.”

To be clear, churches are tax-exempt. The government has no control over any church, and applying for this paycheck protection program would not change that.

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