Despite restrictions on large gatherings because of COVID-19, Florida Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne refuses to close his Tampa-based church, The River.
Newsweek reports that on Sunday, Howard-Browne encouraged his congregants to greet one another at the service despite social distancing.
“Well I know they don't want us to do this, but just turn around and greet two, three people,” he said on Sunday.
“Tell them you love them, Jesus loves them,” he added as people shook hands and hugged one another.
‘Listen, this has to be the safest place … If you cannot be safe in church, you in serious trouble,” he continued.
Howard-Browne later asserted that he had no intention of closing his church, the New York Post reports.
“We are not stopping anything. I've got news for you, this church will never close. The only time the church will close is when the Rapture is taking place.”
Howard-Browne’s “Bible school”, Revival Ministries International, will also remain open.
“This Bible school is open because we're raising up revivalists, not pansies,” he said on Sunday.
Right-wing pastor Rodney Howard-Browne is not about to cancel church or prevent congregants from shaking hands because they are not a bunch of "pansies." pic.twitter.com/C36kBIEWqF— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) March 15, 2020
Since Monday, the state of Florida reported four deaths from COVID-19, along with 155 confirmed cases.
In an article by Right Wing Watch, Howard-Browne says that the coronavirus was “nothing more than a globalist plot to shut down churches.”
“It’s been weaponized to instill fear into people because what they want to do is change the way the world functions, really forever,” the South African, Florida-based pastor asserted.
Churches complying to gathering restrictions will be unable to meet up again as they “gave up ground.”
“Whatever ground you give up because of fear, you will give up permanently”, he said.
Howard-Browne cites the failure of “the climate change narrative for global governance” as his claim.
In response, he believes that the World Health Organization will “take over the control of nations” with forced vaccines that will kill people with the goal of population reduction as “there are too many people on the planet.”
Howard-Browne came to the U.S from South Africa in 1987. He is most well-known for his revival meetings in which congregants burst out into “holy laughter.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Christin Lola
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.