News & Politics

Megachurches Play With Congregants' Lives, Refuse to Cancel Services

Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne of River Church in Tampa, Florida. Source: screenshot YouTube / Rodney Howard-Browne.

In Europe, people are finally waking up to the menace that is the new Chinese coronavirus. They are not mixing with large crowds anymore, they’re staying home as much as they can, and instead of going to church, they watch their church’s live stream.

Apparently, the same cannot be said for leaders and congregants of American megachurches. According to MSN.com, large churches in Louisiana, Florida, and Ohio were still packed on Sunday morning, even though local and federal governments have told everyone to obey social distancing rules.

In Louisiana, which has seen a spike in cases and has a shelter-in-place order, the Life Tabernacle Church in the town of Central held services at 10 a.m. More than 550 parishioners attended.

That’s only half as many as the week before, but it’s still an insane number of attendees in these troubling times, especially considering that Governor John Bel Edwards has already warned that “we’re on a trajectory right now where we’ll not be able to deliver the care that people need when they need it.”

And then there’s Florida:

The River Church in Tampa, Florida, also held services this Sunday. Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne posted a livestream of the services on YouTube, showing the sizable crowd. Howard-Browne said attendees were practicing “social distancing, or whatever” though the crowd appeared to be dense.

Howard-Browne even had the gall to say, “We are not a non-essential service. You’re probably going to get infected at some other place, not here.”

Oh. My. God. Literally.

Of course, it doesn’t really come as a surprise that Howard-Browne refuses to listen to the authorities. After all, this is the same guy who told his congregants on March 15 that they should continue shaking hands because they were “revivalists, not pansies.” Oh, and he claimed in his sermon that the pandemic was a “phantom plague” engineered by the Rockefeller Foundation. Here he is talking about social distancing and having church services in these times.

Lastly, there’s Solid Rock Church in Lebanon, Ohio. This church has 3,500 members and was asked by the local health department to — please! — cancel this Sunday’s meeting. The church refused to cooperate, however, citing its First Amendment right to religious assembly.

Yes, you do have that right. That’s why you were asked rather than ordered not to meet. However, that you can meet doesn’t mean you should do so when there’s a pandemic happening.

Follow me on Twitter.