Florida authorities have issued an arrest warrant for a Tampa megachurch pastor who refused to close church doors, and allowed worshippers to squeeze inside while insisting the church is “not a non-essential service.”
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Rodney Howard-Browne, the pastor of The River Church in Tampa, said he would cure coronavirus the “way he did with Zika.” The pastor previously claimed that he “cursed Zika in the name of Jesus.”
Howard-Browne also reportedly said that he now has machines set up at church, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, that will kill germs on people as soon as they walk through the door.
NBC 8 reports that the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office issued an arrest warrant for the Howard-Browne on Monday after he “repeatedly” violated social distancing rules put in place by authorities.
Howard-Browne previously insinuated that following rules for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic was for “pansies.”
“The only time the church is closed is when the Rapture is taking place. This Bible school is open because we’re raising up revivalists, not pansies.”
On Sunday night, the church kept its doors open as people filed in to listen to Howard-Browne’s sermon. Authorities said they spoke with church leaders and warned them they were in violation of orders set for by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the president, and the governor of Florida.
“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.
“The sheriff’s office has advised church leaders of the danger they are putting themselves and their congregation in by not maintaining appropriate social distancing at a time when COVID-19 cases are unfortunately still on the rise in Hillsborough County.”
The pastor also shut down scientific findings on coronavirus, claiming that it should be less concerning than someone getting the flu. Medical experts have consistently said that COVID-19 is more deadly than the flu and spreads much faster. Experts have also said that social distancing is the best way to stop the virus from spreading.
Press Statement From Revival Ministries International and The River at Tampa Bay In a time of national crisis, we…
“This disease seems to respond to social distancing, and so we can help reduce the number of people dying of COVID-19,” Dr. Pritish Tosh, medical director for Emergency Management at the Mayo Clinic, told ABC News. “This is not overhyping. These rather unprecedented social maneuvers are likely to help to keep otherwise vulnerable people from getting sick and dying.”
Meanwhile, the church’s lawyers are in talks with attorneys from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, to find a way to “keep the public safe under these extraordinary conditions.”
Check back for updates.
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[Feature Photo: Google Maps/March 2019]