“The arrest of Dr. Rodney Howard-Browne was politically motivated. Neither the pastor nor The River at Tampa Bay Church did anything wrong," Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver.
Local megachurch keeps doors open despite social distancing recommendations
A megachurch in Tampa had Sunday service with hundreds of worshipers in attendance while many others are staying home to combat COVID-19.
Pastor says he’s getting death threats
Gloria Gomez reports
Advocates of and opposition to the pastor's actions raised questions about freedom of speech and public health. Howard-Browne said the church was an essential service and that “people have basically, literally lost their ever-loving minds,” referring to the government's measures to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
"I’m not caving. I have to do this to protect the congregation, not from the virus, but from the tyrannical government," Howard-Browne said in a video streamed live on Facebook.