Tags: Coronavirus | Virus Outbreak | Florida Church

Florida Pastor Who Flouted Virus Rules in Custody

Florida Pastor Who Flouted Virus Rules in Custody
Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne turned himself in to authorities Monday afternoon in Hernando County, Fla. (Hernando County Jail/AP)

Monday, 30 March 2020 04:01 PM

 Rodney Howard-Browne, pastor of The River Church, who held two Sunday services at his megachurch in defiance of area "safer-at-home orders," turned himself in to authorities Monday afternoon in Hernando County, Florida, said The Associated Press. 

Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a news conference Monday that he was negotiating with the attorney of Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne to turn himself in to authorities in Hernando County, where he lives. Chronister added that the pastor has “an arsenal of weaponry” and “a vast security force."

“Shame on this pastor, their legal staff and the leaders of this staff for forcing us to do our job. That's not what we wanted to do during a declared state of emergency,” Chronister said. “We are hopeful that this will be a wakeup call."

The church has said it sanitized the building, and the pastor said on Twitter that the church is an essential business. He also attacked the media for “religious bigotry and hate.”

The county and governor’s orders require gatherings, including those held by faith-based groups, be fewer than 10 people to limit the spread of COVID-19. A live stream of Sunday's three-and-a-half-hour church service showed scores of congregants. In a Facebook post, Howard-Browne said coronavirus “is blown totally way out of proportion.”

On March 18, the church called its ministry an essential service, just like police and firefighters, and said it would keep its doors open.

In a Facebook video Sunday, Howard-Browne said “it looks like we're going to have to go to court over this because the church is encroached from every side.”

“This is really about your voice. The voice of the body of Christ,” he said.

As recently as last year, Howard-Browne's church hosted an event with Paula White Cain, who was named an adviser leading President Donald Trump’s Faith and Opportunity Initiative. She's also an unofficial spiritual advisor to the president.

Further details about the pastor's surrender were not available.

© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


   
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Rodney Howard-Browne, pastor of The River Church, who held two Sunday services at his megachurch in defiance of area "safer-at-home orders," turned himself in to authorities Monday afternoon in Hernando County, Florida, said The Associated Press. Hillsborough Sheriff Chad...
Virus Outbreak, Florida Church
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2020-01-30
Monday, 30 March 2020 04:01 PM
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