The Hernando County Sheriff's office arrested Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne last week after the Trump devotee ignored orders forbidding gatherings of more than ten people. Howard-Browne continued to hold services at his massive Florida church, potentially spreading the virus that's caused a national health crisis in the United States.
The pastor had told congregants that the church had installed vents which kill all diseases. He also encouraged them to shake hands.
With Florida nearing 7,000 cases of the virus, the recklessness of Howard-Browne's continued gatherings can't be overstated.
Though legitimate health experts unanimously agree that social distancing and staying at home are necessary measures to keep the virus from spreading to a level that overwhelms medical facilities, some of Howard-Browne's colleagues in the evangelical community have promised to flout these advisories.
Far-right evangelist Jonathan Shuttlesworth is one of them.
Shuttlesworth vowed to endanger worshippers and anyone they come in contact with by holding an outdoor "Easter blowout service."
Right-wing evangelist Jonathan Shuttlesworth, a close friend of Rodney Howard-Browne, says he intends to hold a lar… https://t.co/ESGuiIlqFB— Right Wing Watch (@Right Wing Watch) 1585670671.0
"I'm gonna announce it, that we're gonna hold an outdoor Easter blowout service, not online. A national gathering. People come from all over, like Woodstock, and we're gonna gather and lift up Jesus Christ. I'm not ashamed that Dr. Rodney got arrested. I'm ashamed that when they wanted to arrest preachers for having church in an entire state, there was only one to come for."
Shuttlesworth has routinely criticized European churches as "sissies" for cancelling their services.
In March, he said that taking precautions was a sign of weakness:
"If you're putting out pamphlets and telling everybody to use Purell before they come into the sanctuary and don't greet anyone, you should just turn in your ministry credentials and burn your church down — turn it into a casino or something. You're a loser. Bunch of pansies. No balls. Got neutered somewhere along the line and don't even realize it."
Ironically enough, much of Shuttlesworth's ministry—Revival Today—appears to be through online broadcasts and apps. He and his wife tour the country on speaking engagements, but nothing is scheduled until April 19—a week after Easter.
Details for Shuttlesworth's "blowout" are scarce at the moment, but if Twitter is any indication, there will be many more against the gathering than in its attendance.
An "Outdoor Easter Blow Out Service. Not online. A National gathering . . . like Woodstock." 1. Buffoon 2. Moron… https://t.co/pqsp3QVGtt— Brian J. Karem (@Brian J. Karem) 1585687730.0
Wowza. These folks hate government and science more than they like living. https://t.co/uX8p6DO7Gx— Bryan Behar (@Bryan Behar) 1585673962.0
I believe the word is "funeral." https://t.co/u40wuBory1— Brian Tyler Cohen (@Brian Tyler Cohen) 1585674761.0
look man, you get right with god however you need to. it's when you drag innocents, folks who put their trust and f… https://t.co/ahql4IROSa— Shivam Bhatt (@Shivam Bhatt) 1585702846.0
Why willfully do something so dangerous?
Is it science denial? Or absolute faith? Owning the libs? Stupidity? Conspiracy theory?All of the above? I don't ge… https://t.co/ZorKfaiIKf— FuzzyWuzzy💤 (@FuzzyWuzzy💤) 1585693736.0
@RightWingWatch Why do Evangelicals hate America? As NYC boils in #COVID19, #Christians are on radio, television,… https://t.co/YIyutS8f77— Michael J Valadez (@Michael J Valadez) 1585672560.0
Does christianity want to go extinct? lmao https://t.co/STfowVWaCr— GodandtheBear (@GodandtheBear) 1585738505.0
Easter is in less than two weeks—right around the time some officials say the virus will peak in the United States.
For more information about the evangelical descent into Republican talking points, check out The Immoral Majority, available here.