Megachurch pastor Rodney Howard-Browne was arrested after he kept holding church services amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, according to local ABC affiliate WFTS-TV
“His reckless disregard for human life put hundreds of people in his congregation at risk and thousands of residents who may interact with them this week in danger,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a press conference on Monday, before the arrest was confirmed.
He said officials got a tip about the pastor refusing to temporarily stop services amid the outbreak and that the defendant pastor instead encouraged people to keep meeting at The River at Tampa Bay Church in Tampa, Florida.
Chronister said that Howard-Browne was disregarding the orders from President Donald Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group.
“We would never impede someone’s ability to lean on their religious beliefs as a means of comfort, but practicing those beliefs has to be done safely,” he said.
The sheriff said that morning services at the megachurch saw between 400 and 500 people and that Howard-Browne snubbed direct requests from officials to temporarily stop services.
Rodney Howard-Browne will continue to hold services because his church is the most sterile building in America, as it contains 13 machines that can instantaneously kill any virus: “If they sneeze, it shoots it down at like 100 mph. It’ll neutralize it in split seconds.” pic.twitter.com/Z5PLFXlPfp
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) March 27, 2020
The sheriff’s office confirmed the arrest after the press conference, according to WFTS-TV in Tampa, Fla.
Howard-Browne said during service on Sunday that “the only time the church is closed is when the rapture is taking place,” he said. “This bible school is open because we’re raising up revivalists, not pansies.
Share your thoughts.