A Controversial pentecostal megachurch pastor has been arrested, after he put lives of at least 1,000 members of his church at risk, by holding Sunday services despite the social distancing protocols put in place to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus strain that causes COVID 19.
Despite COVID 19 infecting thousands across America, Pastor Howard-Browne members of The River Tampa Bay Church that he will not be closing down because they are not "pansies."
"We are not stopping anything," he said. "I've got news for you, this church will never close. The only time the church will close is when the Rapture is taking place.
"This Bible school is open because we're raising up revivalists, not pansies," Howard-Browne added.
With the global coronavirus pandemic, according to CNN Health, infecting at least 155,252 Americans and killing over 2,800; the US authorities have issued a "safer-at-home" order banning gatherings of no more than 10 people.
The rule also states that people have to keep 6 feet distance from one another.
Sheriff Chad Chronister and State Attorney Andrew Warren on Monday in a press conference announced that Pastor Rodney with unlawful assembly and violation of public health emergency order.
Pastor Rodney's The River at Tampa Bay Church held two services on March 30 and members were even chauffered to the church on a bus.
"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," Sheriff Chronister said during the press conference announcing the arrest warrant against the controversial pastor, reported Fox13News.
The Sunday service livestream video showed a packed church cheering and applauding to Pastor Rodney, who even encouraged the church members to shake hands.
"Well I know they don't want us to do this, but just turn around and greet two, three people. Tell them you love them, Jesus loves them," Pastor Howards-Browne told the church members. "Listen, this has to be the safest place. If you cannot be saved in church, you in serious trouble."
At the end of the services, the 58-year-old pastor even gave out the altar call and people were seen gathering close while Pastor Howards-Browne laid hands on them.
Pastor Howards-Browne, a Trump ally and open opponent of the coronavirus social distancing restrictions, was part of the group of evangelical leaders who visited President Donald Trump and laid hands in 2017.