Despite local restrictions placed on public gatherings as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, one Florida pastor opted to hold church as usual on Sunday.
The decision led to his arrest on suspicion of unlawful assembly and violation of public health ordinances.
Rodney Howard-Browne, who leads The River megachurch in Tampa, held two services with one reportedly attracting in excess of 500 parishioners.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister cited Howard-Browne’s “reckless disregard for human life” as the reason for the arrest, asserting that he “put hundreds of people in his congregation and thousands of residents who may interact with them this week in danger.”
In its own statement on the issue, The River claimed it should be considered “one of those essential services” allowed to operate amid the widespread social distancing protocol.
“It is a place where people turn for help and for comfort in a climate of fear and uncertainty,” the church wrote.
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