Tampa pastor Rodney Howard-Browne, who has been to the White House and prayed over President Donald Trump, and is a long-time staple in the charismatic revival movement that helped catapult President Trump’s spiritual leader Paula White to worldwide fame, is under fire for defying social distancing rules and holding a packed church service on Sunday, March 29, 2020. The church service has caused an uproar, controversy, and debate on where the demarcation of separation of church and state lies in the midst of a national and global pandemic. Some are now calling for Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne’s arrest should he continue to defy county and federal guidelines regarding social distancing (Tampa is currently under a “Safer-at-Home” order) and feel that under no circumstance should a church be in physical operation with hundreds in attendance.
On the other hand, some say they have a First Amendment right to congregate and Rodney Howard-Browne counters that he purchased 13 air purifiers that sanitize the building and will kill the virus — plus, he believes that his supernatural faith in God is capable of killing the virus as well.
You may hear Rodney Howard-Browne speak about the air purifiers below.
Spent some time watching defiant pastors this AM. Here's Rodney Howard-Browne in Tampa on new 'machines' installed in his church: "Those machines are killing every bacteria in this place. Every virus. If you came in with it, it won't be on you by the time you leave this place." pic.twitter.com/o2RKkAtBgU
— Peter Hamby (@PeterHamby) March 27, 2020
He sparked controversy earlier in March when he declared that through his faith in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Coronavirus would leave Florida the way the Zika virus did. To date, there have been 60 deaths in Florida due to Coronavirus and 5,000 cases with the number continuing to grow.
People were so concerned, they contacted authorities to step in.
You may see a video featuring Rodney Howard-Browne holding church service on Sunday, March 29, 2020, in Tampa below.
In the photo below, you may see Rodney Howard-Browne, his wife Adonica Howard-Browne, and Donald Trump’s spiritual advisor Paula White, surrounding President Donald Trump in the Oval Office below.
Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne of Florida, one of Trump’s inner circle preachers who laid hands on him in the White House, shuns #SocialDistancing
& claims #Covid_19 is a “globalist plot” & *they* want to kill us with vaccines
— Tom Donnelly (@TomDonnelly67) March 30, 2020
Local Tamp radio personality Ryan Gorman did not hold back his outrage that Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne continued to defy the advice of President Trump, the White House Coronavirus team, the CDC, and WHO by not practicing social distancing.
Churchgoers readily took place in the debate and expressed their belief that they have every right to continue to gather and said that if there was ever a time for church it was now.
Others say that no one is saying you can’t have church services — they just need to be moved online and held virtually.
You're a disgrace, putting all these people at risk. And for a Trump supporter, you'd think you'd at least listen to the guidance his administration is putting out. Clearly, as everyone can see below from your own video, you are not. Do better "pastor." https://t.co/p5qkoCLnqV pic.twitter.com/BLqxfuQ8sU
— Ryan Gorman (@ryanegorman) March 30, 2020
At this point, it is unclear whether Rodney Howard-Browne is planning to hold church on Wednesday or next Sunday.
What do you think? Do you believe the First Amendment overrides local authorities who have instituted “Safer At Home” social distancing policies and President Trump’s own guidelines?