Florida Authorities Drop Charges Against Pastor Who Held Church Service

‘The arrest of Dr. Rodney Howard-Browne was politically motivated…’

Tampa-Area Police Arrest Pastor for Holding Church Services

Rodney Howard-Browne/PHOTO: Facebook

(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office dropped charges against a Tampa Bay pastor less than two months after Sheriff Chad Chronister made a theatrical display of his arrest, Liberty Counsel reported.

Police officers arrested Dr. Rodney Howard-Browne, the pastor of The River at Tampa Bay Church, at his home on March 30 because of his decision to hold a church service on March 29.

State Attorney Andrew Warren sent a letter to Howard-Browne on May 15, which explained that “the charge(s)…are dismissed and prosecution is terminated as of this date and that the defendant need not appear for any further proceedings in this matter.”

Liberty Counsel represented Howard-Browne in the case. The non-profit religious liberty law firm argued that the pastor was wrongfully arrested in violation of his Constitutional rights.


“The arrest of Dr. Rodney Howard-Browne was politically motivated,” Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said. “Neither the pastor nor The River at Tampa Bay Church did anything wrong.

“The arrest and the press conference were outrageous and caught the attention of the nation and the world,” he said.

In an unsual break with policing norms, Chronister and Warren held a public press conference to announce the decision to arrest Howard-Browne.

During the press conference on March 30, they lectured Howard-Browne about public safety and the Bible.

“There is no more important commandment than to love thy neighbor as thyself,” Warren said.
Loving thy neighbors is protecting them, not jeopardizing their health by exposing them to this deadly virus.”

Howard-Browne’s arrest prompted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to declare religious worship essential.

“This arrest freed up every church in Florida to meet,” Staver said. “We are pleased that all the charges have been dropped. It is now time to move forward with healing and restoration.”