There are more than 140,000 cases of coronavirus in the United States with tens of thousands being added each day. Multiple states and multitudes of municipalities have issued measures ranging from extreme social distancing to outright stay at home orders.
However, one Florida pastor has decided to challenge those orders directly and defiantly held church service for hundreds of parishioners in Tampa, Florida this weekend.
According to a Daily Mail report:
A livestream of the service at The River at Tampa Bay Church on Sunday showed hundreds of members crowding into the church.
Some churchgoers made an effort to separate their chairs from their fellow worshippers but the majority were not six feet apart like the government’s guidelines recommend.
At one point during the service, dozens of worshippers stood shoulder-to-shoulder and some even embraced, as they sang together at the front of the church.
Pastor Howard-Browne walked through the crowded church at various points during his sermon.
‘They are trying to beat me up, you know, over having the church operational but we are not non-essential,’ he could be heard telling the congregation.
Howard-Browne went onto say, “This Bible school is open because we’re raising up revivalists, not pansies,” and continuing, “The only time the church will close is when the Rapture is taking place.”
Even in countries that have managed to control the virus very well, such as South Korea, religious gatherings have served as a primary vector of the spread of coronavirus.
Now, Howard-Browne is paying for his role in endangering public health and has been arrested by the The Hillsborough County Sheriff Office. He was booked into the county jail earlier today on multiple charges.