While most churches have closed their doors in compliance with government recommendations to stop the spread of coronavirus, a few are making headlines for their defiance.
The River at Tampa Bay Church in Florida held a crowded service Sunday for its thousands of members, despite a ban of groups of 10 or more people and the church’s online streaming capability, FOX 13 reports.
“They are trying to beat me up, you know, over having the church operational but we are not non-essential,” Dr. Rodney Howard-Browne, the Tampa church’s founding pastor, said during Sunday’s service.
Last week, Howard-Browne said they “brought in 13 machines that basically kill every virus in the place” on YouTube as the sheriff’s office and attorneys for the church are in contact about how to best keep the public safe.
“We feel that it would be wrong for us to close our doors on them, at this time, or any time. In a time of crisis, people are fearful and in need of comfort and community,” the church said in a statement posted to their website.
Reverend Tony Spell, the pastor of Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge, La., defied a shelter-in-place order by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, as hundreds gathered Sunday.