Amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, right-wing pastor and radical conspiracy theorist Rodney Howard-Browne has steadfastly refused to cancel services at his The River church in Tampa, Florida, even after Hillsborough County issued a safer-at-home order instructing residents to remain at home as much as possible and to avoid large gatherings.
For weeks, Howard-Browne has insisted on holding Sunday services on the grounds that he and his congregation are “not pansies” while insisting that his church is the most sterile building in America because it is supposedly equipped with machines that can instantaneously kill any virus.
Howard-Browne has used these services to promote baseless conspiracy theories about the coronavirus outbreak and repeatedly vowed that he would never cancel services, regardless of what the government ordered. He held services again yesterday, after which he received a visit from the local sheriff’s office about his wanton flouting of the safer-at-home order.
On Monday, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister held a press conference announcing that because of Howard-Browne’s refusal to cancel services despite repeated requests and warnings, an arrest warrant had been issued for him for unlawful assembly and violations of public health emergency rules.