Pastor arrested for holding service during pandemic, but abortion mills remain open

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As the COVID-19 pandemic prompted shutdowns across the nation and world, some businesses and social groups continue to violate mandates by local government.  At the urging of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Trump Administration, local authorities have been enforcing stricter measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  

Essential businesses remain open, but in many communities public events and gatherings are cancelled.  One notable violation of the shutdown orders across the country is the abortion industry, which in many states continues to operate, despite the fact that abortion is never medically necessary.  The continued operation of abortion mills puts additional strain on the overtaxed healthcare system starting to heroically confront the rising tide of COVID-19 cases.  Abortions can and do result in potentially life-threatening complications for mothers, which may divert life-saving resources from the increasingly overwhelmed medical system.  Not to mention, simply by remaining open, abortion mills bring people into close contact potentially exposing more people to the virus.

Despite these obvious facts, Texas and other states have had to fight the abortion industry to cease lethal operations ending the lives of preborn babies during the pandemic.  Although the abortion industry’s egregious undermining of public health and safety seems like a violation worthy of local law enforcement’s attention, that was sadly not the case in Florida this week.  

On Monday, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister held a press conference announcing the impending arrest of Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne of The River at Tampa Bay Church.  Howard-Browne was taken into custody for holding church services on Sunday, March 29, 2020, allegedly in violation of an administrative order issued by Hillsborough County where the church is located. 

Liberty Counsel is representing Pastor Howard-Browne.  In a statement on the developments, the group noted the many exemptions included in the order and the many commercial businesses that remained in operation while observing increased precautions and social distancing measures.  Liberty Counsel states that, far from the “reckless” gathering condemned by the sheriff’s department, The River at Tampa Bay Church took extensive precautionary measures and enforced social distancing throughout the gatherings on Sunday.

According to Liberty Counsel, the church: “Enforced the six-foot distance between family groups in the auditorium as well as the overflow rooms; All the staff wore gloves; Every person who entered the church received hand sanitizer; In the farmer’s market and coffee shop in the lobby, the six-foot distance was enforced with the floor specifically marked (farmer’s markets and produce stands are expressly exempted); and the church spent $100,000 on a hospital-grade purification system set up throughout the church that provides continuous infectious microbial reduction that is rated to kill microbes, including those in the coronavirus family.”

While local law enforcement chose to “make an example” of Pastor Howard-Browne and his church, the abortion industry continues to operate with impunity.  Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a ban on  “medically unnecessary, non-urgent or non-emergency procedures.”  Unfortunately, unlike in Texas, the Florida governor did not specifically include elective abortion in this ban, and thus abortion clinics across the state are expected to remain open. 

Among others, Tampa is home to the notorious Women’s Center of Hyde Park.  In a time of national and international crisis, communities are stepping up to ensure that lives are saved.  The abortion industry, which profits from the death of preborn children, continues to prioritize death. The fact that a pastor was arrested for meeting with his congregation, while maintaining strict protective measures, while abortion businesses remain open, is a grave injustice. Texas has won the fight to ban elective abortions during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Other states have not succeeded in shuttering the nonessential, predatory abortion industry which continues to unjustly take the lives of preborn children and put further strain on the limited medical resources available during the crisis.  While abortion businesses remain open, arresting a pastor for meeting with his congregation demonstrates a serious misplacement of priorities.


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