On Monday, a Florida pastor was arrested for violating the state’s stay-at-home-order by holding two huge Sunday church services, according to WFLA News. Rodney Howard-Browne, pastor at the River at Tampa Bay megachurch in Riverview, held two separate worship services on Sunday and even bused people in. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office got an anonymous tip saying that the pastor planned to hold services in person, against the guidance of all officials.
“His reckless disregard for human life put hundreds of people in his congregation at risk and thousands of residents who may interact with them this week in danger,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said, adding that there was no reason for the pastor to violate the order. “They have access to technology allowing them to livestream their services over the internet and broadcast to their 4,000 members from the safety of their own homes, but instead they chose to gather at church.” (The services were reportedly also livestreamed.)
Howard-Browne paid a $500 bond on two misdemeanors about 40 minutes after he was taken into custody. The New York Daily News reports that Howard-Browne was charged with reckless disregard for public safety and unlawful assembly in violation of public safety order.