Megachurch Pastor Arrested for Holding Service During Social Distancing

Eldis Sula
March 30, 2020 - 3:09 pm

Tampa megachurch Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne was arrested for holding services at his River Church on Sunday during the coronavirus pandemic.

The pastor was arrested on charges of unlawful assembly and for violating health and safety rules, reports TMZ.

According to the outlet, Howard-Browne flouted calls for social distancing amid the COVID-19 outbreak, bragging during the service that his church would remain open.

“The only time the church will close is when the Rapture is taking place.” the pastor allegedly boasted, despite the safer-at-home order issued in Hillsborough County, which banned gatherings of 10 people or more.

Howard-Browne turned himself in to a neighboring sheriff’s office, was booked and released within 40 minutes, reports Daily Beast.

“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,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister at a press conference.

Howard-Browne's service came after a direct warning from Chronister's office.

The pastor proceeded with two services, even offering to bus people to the church.

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