Tampa Megachurch Pastor Arrested for Holding Service.
Arrest warrant for Tampa Bay pastor Rodney Howard-Browne was issued Monday, and the pastor was taken into custody for violating countywide “safer-at-home” order according to sheriff.
In the midst of coronavirus pandemic, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said the River at Tampa Bay Church violated the county’s order related to large gatherings and social distancing.
The pastor of a Tampa megachurch is facing charges after refusing to close its doors despite a “safer at home” order in effect in Hillsborough County, meant to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The sheriff says up to 500 people were in attendance at Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne’s Sunday services, according to Fox5 report.
Sheriff Chad Chronister and State Attorney Andrew Warren on Monday announced that an arrest warrant had been issued for Pastor Howard-Browne.
He faces misdemeanor charges of unlawful assembly and violation of public health emergency order.
The River at Tampa Bay Church held two services Sunday, Chronister said, and even offered bus transportation for those services. The chuch’s livestream showed a packed crowd cheering and applauding.
“They have access to technology allowing them to livestream their services over the internet and broadcast to their 400 members from the safety of their own homes, but instead they chose to gather at church,” Chronister said during a press conference.
Howard-Browne, 58, was taken into custody Monday afternoon in Hernando County, where he lives, and released 40 minutes later after posting a $500 bond.
His attorney later took issue with the Hillsborough County order, claiming it allows companies like Amazon to operate while shutting down churches.
“Not only did the church comply with the administrative order regarding six-foot distancing, it went above and beyond any other business to ensure the health and safety of the people,” insisted Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mat Staver. “Contrary to Sheriff Chronister’s allegation that Pastor Howard-Browne was ‘reckless,’” the actions of Hillsborough Country and the Hernando County Sheriff are discriminatory against religion and church gatherings.”..Read more here
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Tampa Megachurch Pastor Arrested For Holding Service.
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