Coronavirus: Tampa Bay Pastor Arrested for Holding Church Service

Coronavirus: Tampa Bay Pastor Arrested for Holding Church Service

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister announced Howard-Browne's arrest on social media, writing that the pastor of The River at Tampa Bay Church "intentionally and repeatedly disregarded state and local public health orders" by holding the services despite a "safer at home" order being in effect in the area due to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.

Chronister said his command staff met with The River at Tampa Bay Church leaders about the danger they are putting themselves - and their congregation - in by not maintaining appropriate social distancing, and Howard-Browne went ahead and held the services.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office issued a statement responding to the church's decision to continue allowing followers inside for worship.

Chronister says Howard-Browne is in the process of turning himself in, but his deputies will go get him if they have to. A livestream on the church's Facebook page showed congregants gathered for its Sunday morning "Main Event" service, many standing shoulder to shoulder while the church band played.

The warrant charges the pastor with unlawful assembly and violation of public safety rules, both misdemeanors, according to Chronister. "Our goal is not to stop people from worshiping", said Chronister, "but the safety and well-being of our community must always come first".

At this point, it does not appear that Browne has turned himself in to cops.

Dr. Rodney Howard Browne preaching at The River at Tampa Bay Church
Dr. Rodney Howard Browne preaching at The River at Tampa Bay Church

"Loving is neighbors is protecting them, not jeopardizing them by exposing them to this deadly virus", Warren said.

"It should make us all uncomfortable", said John DeBevoise, a pastor at Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church, to the local Fox affiliate. "We're also hoping that the congregation realizes the importance of reducing the spread of this virus and stays at home".

Warren, who, worked with Chronister on Sunday to obtain the warrant, reminded Howard-Browne what Mark 12:31 teaches, "that there is no more important commandment that to love thy neighbor as thyself". So far, ten counties, including the county in which River Church is located, have placed some restrictions and ordered non-essential businesses to close.

"It's not a matter of leaving the doors open, but if he holds a service and he has a meeting of any kind where people are listening to him, then he is responsible for them being there".

The church released a statement saying they should be considered an "essential service", just like hospitals and police are. "One, it's absolutely clear that emergency orders like this are constitutional and valid".

Faith groups across the country have canceled services or switched to online-based services, including the 34th Street Church of God in Tampa, whose Bishop Thomas Scott was present in support of the sheriff's actions on Monday. "The Bible instructs us to obey the laws of the land".

Related Articles

  • Macy's Furloughs Most Of Its 130000 Workers

    Macy's Furloughs Most Of Its 130000 Workers

    To survive, it has suspended its dividend, drawn down its line of credit, frozen hiring and spending and canceled orders. Macy's has about 130,000 full-time and part-time workers as of Feb 2., according to a report by The New York Times .

    Half-Life: Alyx without VR was accidentally left in game by Valve

    Basing on his experience, a curious gamer out there will do the work for the rest of the fan base. However, the demo is only limited to the most basic of interactions, as noted by Eurogamer .
    'Don't come here,' Florida Gov. authorizes checkpoints at state lines

    'Don't come here,' Florida Gov. authorizes checkpoints at state lines

    The governor didn't elaborate on whether that would be in a new executive order or an extension of the Monday order. He said those with certain licenses plates would be diverted for screening and told of the isolation requirements.
  • Coronavirus: Trump may quarantine New York, New Jersey and CT

    Coronavirus: Trump may quarantine New York, New Jersey and CT

    The CDC issued a statement in which they insisted on the citizens to "refrain" from all unnecessary domestic travel for two weeks. But officials believe the state will need 140,000 beds when it reaches the apex of the pandemic in 14 to 21 days, Cuomo said.
    Ryan Reynolds in talks to star in adaptation of Dragon's Lair

    Ryan Reynolds in talks to star in adaptation of Dragon's Lair

    The game again was praised for its graphics, but poor controls and limited interactivity kept it from being as popular. Created in by Rick Dyer and Don Bluth , the Dragon's Lair franchise was first released for arcades in 1983.
    Italy may have 10 times higher cases than reported: Officials #50319

    Italy may have 10 times higher cases than reported: Officials #50319

    As of writing, there are at least 69,176 confirmed case of coronavirus in the country, as reported by CNN . However, there was reassuring evidence that Italy's coronavirus infection rate was slowing.
  • USA  oil market reaches negative prices

    USA oil market reaches negative prices

    Containment measures have caused demand to slump and supply chains to be severely disrupted, dramatically lowering demand for oil. In Europe, May Brent crude, the global marker, fell $US1.41, or almost 5.4%, to $US24.93 a barrel, for a weekly loss of 7.6%.
    UK Prime Minister and Health Secretary test positive for coronavirus

    UK Prime Minister and Health Secretary test positive for coronavirus

    The government confirmed earlier this week that if Mr Johnson became incapacitated, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab would step in. Johnson was in Parliament as recently as Wednesday, where he carried out an extended Prime Minister's Question Time.
    NY Bakery Puts ‘Hero’ Dr. Anthony Fauci’s Face On Donuts

    NY Bakery Puts ‘Hero’ Dr. Anthony Fauci’s Face On Donuts

    Fauci answered questions about the virus and its severity, including the numbers doctors are dealing with. Like most of us, Noah wanted to know when the country can return back to a more normal way of living.
  • Trump accuses hospitals of hoarding ventilators as the USA  faces shortages

    Trump accuses hospitals of hoarding ventilators as the USA faces shortages

    I've been watching them bring in trailer trucks - freezer trucks. because they can't handle the bodies, there are so many of them. Phil Murphy said on Sunday that more than 13,000 of those cases are in the Garden State. "We have to do better as a country".
    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson back in Los Angeles

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson back in Los Angeles

    Hanks and Wilson are just two of the many members of the film and TV community who have been sickened by coronavirus . The superstar couple were the first high-profile names to test positive for COVID-19 earlier in March.
    COVID-19: SA death toll revised to 1

    COVID-19: SA death toll revised to 1

    The disease is particularly risky to people with underlying health conditions, Mkhize warned South Africans according to IOL. Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said some South Africans are co-operating but others simply are not.