Police warned Rodney Howard-Browne, pastor of the River at Tampa Bay Church, concerning the risks of holding Sunday providers at his Florida megachurch, however Howard-Browne defied the self-distancing tips and held two massive providers, even busing folks in. He has since been arrested on misdemeanor expenses of illegal meeting and violating quarantine orders throughout a public well being emergency, in keeping with the Tampa Bay Instances.
On Friday, the county had ordered all gatherings, together with these of a non secular nature, be restricted to 10 or fewer contributors in an try to cease the unfold of the coronavirus. State legislation permits violations of the order to be punishable by as much as 60 days in jail, a most positive of $500 or each.
Due to the reckless disregard of public security and after repeated requests and warnings, I labored with our state legal professional, Andrew Warren, to acquire a warrant for illegal meeting and violation of public well being emergency guidelines, each of that are second-degree misdemeanors, mentioned Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister mentioned. Our purpose right here is to not cease anybody from worshiping, however the security and well-being of our group should at all times come first.”
Chronister mentioned members of his authorized workers and command workers went to the church earlier than the providers in an try to clarify the social distancing tips and the legal guidelines across the order, however Howard-Browne had declined to satisfy with them.
Disgrace on this pastor, their authorized workers and the leaders of this church for forcing us to do our job,” Chronister mentioned. “Thats not what we needed to do throughout a declared state of emergency.
Howard-Browne was booked on the county jail and went free about 40 minutes later after posting a bond.
In a press convention asserting the arrest, Chronister was joined by Warren, who quoted the Bible. Id remind the great pastor of Mark 12:31, which mentioned theres no extra essential commandment than to like thy neighbor as thyself, Warren mentioned. Loving your neighbors is defending them, not jeopardizing their well being by exposing them to this lethal virus.
Proper Wing Watch studies that Howard-Browne has unfold a number of conspiracy theories about COVID-19 from the pulpit, telling congregants that it was someway each a phantom plague created by the Chinese language and the product of a sinister plot from the Invoice and Melinda Gates Basis.