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LARPing Martyr’s Ankle Jewelry

Pastor Tony Spell nailed to a cross, or something (Screengrab from Central City News)

Here in Baton Rouge, yesterday was “a day that will live in infamy,” according to Pastor Tony Spell, the Pentecostal preacher who has a rather inflated image of himself. Did the Japanese air force surprise-attack his back patio? Pretty much: the pastor was fitted with an ankle bracelet as a condition of his house arrest. A local judge put him on house arrest after a hearing over aggravated assault charges stemming from Spell’s backing a church bus towards a protester. The authorities allowed him to stage the clamping for his online audience — watch on Facebook here.

Spell compared himself to Jesus Christ on Golgotha, and Rosa Parks in the back of the bus. Then, when he finally condescended to enter into his kitchen for the clamping of the ankle bracelet, the man who installed the thing could hardly have been more polite. Spell gassed on comparing what was being done to him to the Pearl Harbor attack. The sweet stout man who put on the ankle bracelet bowed his head when Spell began to pray. Whatever this is, it is not the Gestapo.

Well, this morning Spell left his house and headed to his church to preach. My guess is that the authorities have been trying not to fulfill this cat’s dream of becoming some sort of First Amendment martyr, but that with this stunt in defiance of a judicial order, Spell will have gotten on their last nerve. I’m watching the service now on Facebook. The church is only half full, maybe less. Spell’s sermon is one long oration of self-praise and repetition. Now there’s a crowd of people on their knees wailing and speaking in tongues. They are holding on to each other, crying, glossolaling like there’s no tomorrow. I took a couple of screenshots below. Spell is expected to turn himself in to police after the service.

I look at this guy, and don’t see Jesus, or St. Paul in chains, or Polycarp, or Dietrich Bonhoeffer, or anybody from the Christian tradition worthy of emulation. I see a man who is full of himself.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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