Yesterday, a defiant Florida pastor, Rodney Howard-Browne was arrested for defying an ordinance against public gatherings. For weeks Howard-Browne had been vocal about continuing to meet as a church despite a “safer-at-home” order that the country put in place recently to protect people from COVID-19.
Critics of Howard-Browne will claim that he just doesn’t want to miss an offering. Supporters will make him into a bold martyr. Howard-Browne says he has forced a debate on the first amendment in a post-bail Facebook video late last night.
In a Facebook post his River Church explained why they are staying open.
Howard-Browne has been spreading conspiracies theories that the Chinese government started this plague while the media was used to spread panic, because “they are run by the communists,” and this will enrich, “the money cartel” that supposedly profited billions from the U.S. economic breakdown.”
“So you produce this plague, you bring it into this country, and then it doesn’t have to be everywhere because the more they test, the more they’ll find people positive. There’s a 75 percent chance that the positive [test] is actually a negative, and that’s the problem. The testing is not verifiable.”
He continued to claim that the goal was to come up with a fake vaccine that would enrich drug companies. He asserted that the plague was planned at a meeting sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundations and “the decision to launch the pandemic was made at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2020.”
He was not done: “It’s all the deep state traitors that have surrounded our president on every side that are feeding him misinformation.” He told his congregation that we are in World War II and they plan to take down America. The World Health Organization is taking over—they will mandate a vaccine and if you don’t take it, you will not be allowed to travel.
Let’s catch up. Who is in on this conspiracy:
The media (that is run by “the Communists” according to Howard-Browne)
Bill and Melinda Gates foundations (the goal is population control and redistribution of wealth)
The Pharmaceutical companies
The deep state in order to get President Trump
World Health Organization
It is as if he took every conspiracy theory out there and embraced them all. Mind you, the Chinese are not in bed with the American deep state. The media is definitely not seeking to help the pharmaceutical companies get rich.
But in the same message he rejoices that “every god in America fell,” referring to sports and Hollywood.
There is a time for civil disobedience, but let me make a few points:
the Trump Administration is the most pro-evangelical administration possibly ever. It is unthinkable that Trump is seeking to shut down churches.
I can tell you that the data is clear—the more you gather, the more you are susceptible to the virus. In Israel, 50% of those who have the virus are Ultra-Orthodox Jews. But they make up less than 10% of the population. They defied the lockdown rules and are now paying the price. This is a fact.
God seems to be using this crisis to teach the church worldwide new ways of fellowshipping using technology.
However, the time will come for civil disobedience. From the moment this pandemic started, I felt led to Matthew 24, Yeshua’s teaching on the end of times. Others too have quoted Yeshua’s warning, “All these are the beginning of birth pains.” And if that is so, then God is teaching us how to survive, minister and meet in the midst of future end-time events: famine, earthquakes, wars and rumors of wars.
Yes, the time for civil disobedience will come, but I do not feel it is now.