Some were forced to make the choice between God or state lawful orders, Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne, 58, chose God and was arrested. Pastor Rodney is the senior pastor at The River at Tampa Bay Church in Tampa, Florida.
Pastor Rodney held two church services at his church on Sunday March 29, 2020 during the Coronavirus pandemic. There were strict orders by local government for Tampa Florida to stay at home, specifically no large gatherings allowed, including worship services.
Pastor Rodney was arrested on Monday afternoon March 30, 2020 after Sheriff Chad Chronister and State Attorney Andrew Warren announced an arrest warrant had been issued for Pastor Rodney on charges of unlawful assembly and violating public health emergency rules of isolation and quarantine. Howard-Browne was released 40 minutes later after posting a $500 bond.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said the following about Pastor Rodney:
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"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. They have access to technology allowing them to live stream 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.”