Monday, March 30, 2020

Florida Pastor Arrested for Defying Social Distancing Ordinance

Despite gubernatorial orders imposing social distancing measures and restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 people, mega-church pastors and scamvangelists like Jerry Falwell, Jr., have ignored the orders and held church services and gatherings that could increase the spread of coronavirus thereby putting the lunacy and social irresponsible nature of Christofascists on open display. In Texas, three pastors are challenging the constitutionality of a stay-at-home order issued by Texas officials in Harris County (which encompasses Houston).  The whining charlatans claim the mandate improperly tramples on individual freedoms by closing churches.  Their related bitch is that the order failed to designate gun stores “essential” businesses.  Of course, the real reason for their complaint is that they will miss out on collections at services if they comply with the order, showing once again that money is their true god.  Also of note is that among these pastors is notorious anti-LGBT activist and hate group leader Steven Hotze, who has compared LGBT individuals to murders, rapists, and pedophiles. 

Thankfully, in Florida one of this type of religious extremists in the Tampa area has been arrested for failure to comply with that state's ban on large gatherings. A piece in New York Magazine looks at the mega-church pastor who has ignored the ban on large gatherings for weeks now, endangering both his lemming like parishioners and the larger community.  Here are article highlights: 
You knew it had to transpire sooner or later: a religious leader claiming both spiritual and constitutional immunity from laws aimed at protecting people from COVID-19. As it happens, the first “martyr” to this dubious cause was a controversial Tampa pentecostal minister named Rodney Howard-Browne who has been defying official guidelines on protecting the members of his flock for weeks now. Here’s the Tampa Bay Timeswrite-up of the arrest he deliberately provoked:
The pastor of a Tampa megachurch who held two services on Sunday for scores of worshipers was arrested Monday for violating a county order requiring residents to stay at home to limit the spread of coronavirus. Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne, co-founder of the River at Tampa Bay Church, turned himself in to the Hernando County jail and was booked on Hillsborough charges of unlawful assembly and violating quarantine orders during a public health emergency, jail records show.
He got sprung on bail immediately, and will likely use the incident for massive publicity purposes.
Howard-Browne encouraged personal contact and claimed his sanctuary contained “machines” that would “kill every virus in the place,” making it “the most sterile building in…all of America.” He is also, of course, arguing the local order he defied violated his religious liberty rights. . . .
Howard-Browne has also suggested those believers who fear the coronavirus are “pansies,” and as reported in the New York Times, has argued he’s fighting a global socialist conspiracy:
“Because the climate change narrative for global governance failed,” Mr. Howard-Browne said in a video of the [March 15] service, “they are using the World Health Organization to then come in and take over the control of nations.” He added, “There’s going to be forced vaccines” to “kill off many people.”
You might think Howard-Browne is cuckoo-for-Cocoa-Puffs and dismiss him as a fringe character. But he seems to have some friends in high places: He shared a photo to Facebook on July 11, 2017, as he stood over President Donald Trump with his hands on the president’s back. Vice President Mike Pence can be seen amongst the men in the group, with his head bowed in prayer.
If the spread of the infection could be limited to these pastors and their followers, a cynic might argue that it would be a good thing - Darwin's theory in action, if you will  - but they selfishly will be exposing others.  It is also disturbing that this type of lunatic has access to the White House.

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