A church in Florida has a warning for anyone thinking of trying to attack its congregation: “We are heavily armed.” A leader of The River at Tampa Bay Church posted the message on his Instagram in the wake of the mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in rural Sutherland Springs, Texas, where 26 people died earlier this month.
The Instagram post reads, "Welcome to The River at Tampa Bay Church. Right of admission reserved — this is private property. Please know this is not a gun free zone — we are heavily armed — any attempt will be dealt with deadly force — yes we are a church and will protect our people — The Pastors.”
Signs with the same message are posted on every door of The River at Tampa Bay Church. Actually, they’ve been up on each entrance for over a year now, but the church has received extra attention after Senior Pastor Rodney Howard Browne posted it on his Instagram on November 7, according to the New York Daily News.
Pastor Allen Hawes told Fox 13 Tampa that some of the church’s parishioners have concealed-carry permits. Plainclothes guards and uniformed deputies the church hires may also be armed during the services, he said, adding that he has his own concealed-carry weapons permit. Each service draws about 1,000 people.
“I believe, if you look at the teachings of Jesus, Matthew, and different places in the scriptures, we see it will get increasingly darker, wars, rumors of wars, and people with not good intentions are going to look for a way to make a statement,” Hawes said.
“Would I rather ruffle a few feathers, or do I want to count bodies?” he asked.