Florida officials have arrested the pastor of a mega-church after authorities say he held two worship services with hundreds of people, which violated the safer-at-home order now in place.
Pastor Rodney Howard-Brown turned himself in to authorities Monday afternoon and is charged with unlawful assembly and violation of a public health emergency order.
According to records, the pastor’s mega-church in Tampa was taking all of the proper precautions and taking all social distancing guidelines into account. The sanctuary is large, and there is apparently plenty of room to observe the 6-feet suggestion. Representatives of the church say that the entire facility was sanitized both before and after each service. Members were also provided with hand sanitizer, and shaking hands was discouraged.
The pastor plans to fight this in court citing the First Amendment “the right of the people peaceably to assemble”. This is one argument the church’s attorneys will use in court. The other being freedom of religion.
The Pastor is also charged with violating a public health emergency order. Florida grants some rather sweeping powers to the governor during a declared public health emergency, but is this one of those times when a state wants to prosecute? A time when people need the comfort and solace of their spiritual leaders.
These are interesting times, for sure. In Rhode Island, the governor has ordered police to stop cars based on from what state they are arriving. The Rhode Island National Guard is monitoring its train stations.
In Boston, police have been stopping couples on the street and asking them what business they have that brings them out in public. And now, a church pastor has been arrested.
What do you think about all of this? Should a preacher be prosecuted for holding a worship service?
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