Pro Trump Pastor Arrested in Florida for Hosting Church Services
A Pro-Trump pastor has been arrested for hosting churches services in Florida. This appears to be the first case of this kind under the Chinese Coronavirus pandemic.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office obtained an arrest warrant for Rev. Rodney Howard-Browne the pastor of The River Church, a mega church in Tampa, Florida for hosting two worship services at his church this past Sunday.
State Attorney Andrew Warren remarked, “I think it’s unfortunate that the pastor here is hiding behind the First Amendment. One, it’s absolutely clear that emergency orders like this are constitutional and valid. Second of all, leaders from our faith-based community across this country have embraced the importance of social distancing.”
“Because of the reckless disregard of public safety and after repeated requests and warnings, I worked with our state attorney, Andrew Warren, to obtain a warrant for unlawful assembly and violation of public health emergency rules, both of which are second degree misdemeanors,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said. “Our goal here is not to stop anyone from worshiping, but the safety and well-being of our community must always come first.”
Howard-Browne was charged with unlawful assembly and violation of public health emergency order, was arrested in Hernando County, and booked in jail around 2:20 p.m. Records indicate he was released shortly thereafter.
Florida state law allows the order to be enforced as a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to sixty days in jail, a maximum fine of $500 or both. Hillsborough officials have said the penalties for non-compliance would likely begin with warnings and fines.
Rev. Howard-Browne is one of the earliest voices of support of President Trump from the faith community.