TheHill reports Florida megachurch pastor Rodney Howard-Browne closed the doors to his church Monday to protect his congregation from “a tyrannical government.”
“I actually have no choice at this juncture but to shut the church down this Sunday,” Howard-Browne, pastor of The River at Tampa Bay, said on his livestream call-in show.
Howard-Browne was arrested Monday and charged with misdemeanor counts of unlawful assembly and violating public health rules after hosting two Sunday services at The River church.
The church violated social distancing measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus by holding services with nearly 500 people in attendance.
“I have to do this to protect the congregation — not from the virus but from a tyrannical government,” Howard-Browne said.
The pastor cited his own concerns that someone might purposefully go into his church and try to infect the congregation with COVID-19 if his doors remained open.
He has gone on record claiming the coronavirus is a bio-weapon made by China to destroy the economy of the U.S.
“The World Health Organization has come in and is using a pandemic to take over not just America, but the whole of the world,” he said Tuesday night on his live show.