‘The only time the church will close is when the Rapture is taking place’: Florida pastor mocks coronavirus social distancing orders and says his mass sermons will continue since his followers are ‘revivalists, not pansies’
- Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne is a South African-born evangelical Christian
- He runs the Tampa-based Revival Ministries International, a ‘Bible school’
- Howard-Browne gave a sermon on Monday at River Tampa Church
- He urged followers to shake each other’s hand despite coronavirus outbreak
- Howard-Browne says he will only close church ‘when Rapture comes’
- So far, four people have died in Florida from the novel coronavirus
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
A conservative evangelical pastor in Florida is defying calls to close his church so as to prevent the spread of coronavirus, saying that his sermons will go on since his congregants aren’t ‘pansies’ and that they should even shake hands.
‘We are not stopping anything, Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne told his followers during a sermon at River Tampa Church on Monday.
‘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.
Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne told his followers in a Tampa church on Monday that taking social distancing precautions because of the coronavirus outbreak is for ‘pansies’
Howard-Browne, who heads a Tampa-based ‘Bible school’ called Revival Ministries International, delivered a sermon at the River Tampa Church on Monday
‘This Bible school is open because we’re raising up revivalists, not pansies.’
Howard-Browne heads a Tampa-based ‘Bible school’ called Revival Ministries International.
During the course of the sermon, the pastor, a South African-born US citizen who first came to the United States as a missionary in 1987, told his followers to greet one another, according to Newsweek.
‘Well I know they don’t want us to do this, but just turn around and greet two, three people,’ he said.
‘Tell them you love them, Jesus loves them.’
Florida, as of Monday, has reported four deaths from the novel coronavirus.
There have also been 155 confirmed cases of coronavirus reported in the state – a significant spike compared to figures over the weekend.
Some cities and counties have begun implementing bans on gatherings of more than 250 people.
But Howard-Browne doesn’t appear eager to heed any that might affect his church.
‘Listen, this has to be the safest place,’ he said during the sermon.
‘If you cannot be saved in church, you in serious trouble.’
Last month, Howard-Browne bragged that he had plans to stop the coronavirus.
He said he would do to the pathogen what he did with the Zika virus, which was ‘cursed’ from Florida in the name of Jesus.
Howard-Browne pledged to ward off coronavirus and keep it from reaching the United States.
‘We are doing the same thing with the coronavirus,’ Howard-Browne said in a Periscope video posted on February 24.
‘We do not need it on these shores, and somebody said “Well, what about the rest of the world?”
‘I mean, I can’t be responsible for every city, or whatever.’
As of Monday afternoon, the US has reported more than 4,100 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
At least 73 people who were confirmed carriers of the virus have died.
Howard-Browne is known for making outlandish statements.
In January, he made headlines when he said that Jesus should ‘beat the crap out of’ John Bolton, the former national security adviser who was critical of President Trump after he fired him over disagreements on foreign policy.