You never know that outcome, good or bad, until you take a risk.
While many American pastors called ‘discretion the better part of valor’ and shuttered the church until their government said it was ok to live life again, a few stalwarts continued to meet anyway.
Rodney Howard-Browne is one such pastor.
And, right on cue, he was arrested for it. It became a national story.
He was roundly hated and flogged in the press by people who didn’t know the first thing about him — or about any of the relevant facts of the story. It was hyped up as another ‘greedy pastor’ story. Some yahoo putting (maybe you’ve heard this elsewhere in their narrative) ‘money before lives’.
Forget the fact that they were practicing ‘social distancing’ and offering sanitizer upon arrival. The were written off as evil and threats to civil society because they didn’t toe the line.
Sound familiar? Of course it does. The media are using guilt and fear to manipulate us.
So, ultimately, Pastor Howard-Browne was arrested and led away by police. He had his mugshot taken and all of that.
But the story didn’t end there.
Prosecutors have dropped the charges against the Tampa pastor who held Sunday services despite county orders meant to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The office of Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren filed notice Friday that it will not pursue the case against Pastor Tampa Rodney Howard-Browne of the River at Tampa Bay Church. Howard-Browne had been charged with unlawful assembly and violating quarantine orders during a public health emergency.
In a statement, Warren said Howard Browne’s arrest “remains an appropriate step taken by law enforcement to immediately correct irresponsible behavior after repeated efforts to gain cooperation in other ways were not successful.” —TampaBayTimes
Dropping? That was good news. ‘An appropriate step’? Eh, not so much.
Warren joined Sheriff Chad Chronister at a news conference March 23, a day after Howard-Browne held Sunday morning and evening services at the Tampa church. Chronister said sheriff’s officials reached out to the church twice before the services to stress the importance of following county orders that limited gatherings to 10 people and required residents to stay at home except for essential tasks.
Instead, Chronister said, Howard-Browne held services anyway, showing a “reckless disregard” for the congregation and the public. Warren then took to the lectern at the news conference and quoted the Bible. —TampaBayTimes
Reckless disregard? Maybe he missed that ‘social distancing’ and ‘hand sanitizer’ part of what the church was providing for attendees?
It’s a question of scale. If ten people in a building that normally seats fifty is acceptable, what would be wrong with 100 people in a building that normally seats 500 by the same logic? And so on?
Ten attendees is an arbitrary and entirely unjustifiable number.
Jesus didn’t call his Church to be filled with timid little lemmings, but to be led by bold disciples with faith and courage. Disciples that can inspire the same in their congregations.
It’s time the Church stopped wondering why they have become culturally irrelevant and started living an example worth following.
Earlier stories on this topic:
Church leaders weren’t always nutless wonders.
Then again, the Jesus they preached back then hadn’t been neutered to comply with social acceptability yet, either.
That’s right. And Doug Giles can prove it, straight out of the Gospels.
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