Sean Feucht is a Christian worship leader and former Republican Congressional candidate from northern California, who held a mass outdoor service in Portland, Oregon, on Aug. 8 violating federal and local coronavirus safety guidelines.
The service was part of a series of events Feucht, 36, calls “Riots to Revival,” and the largest yet, Fox News reported. Feucht told Fox that between 4,000 and 7,000 people attended; they were largely maskless and did not follow social distancing guidelines.
One attendee told local NBC affiliate KGW8, “My faith is in God, not fear of [coronavirus]. I’m good.”
1. Feucht Is a Worship Leader, Recording Artist & Former Congressional Candidate Who Is Pushing His Rallies as an Alternative to Black Lives Matter Protests
Feucht was born in Montana and now lives in northern California with his wife and four kids, according to his biography on his Facebook page. He has founded several Christian non-profits and done missionary work in Iraq and “more than 50 other nations,” Feucht wrote.
Feucht, through his faith-based political organization Hold the Line, has been holding large religious gatherings outdoors in California for months, at which hundreds have gathered without following coronavirus safety guidelines, CNN reported.
The Facebook page for Hold the Line describes it as a “political activist movement” aiming to get the Christian church — particularly millennial worshippers — more involved in politics.
2. California Health Authorities Chided Feucht for an Event in Shasta County & Asked Every Attendee to Self-Quarantine Afterward
Huge gathering of Bethel Church members under the Sundial Bridge in Redding Wednesday night. pic.twitter.com/NSx89aDjtx
— Mike Mangas (@mikemangas) July 23, 2020
On July 24, Feucht gathered hundreds of his followers in Redding, California, beneath the Sundial Bridge to worship, flouting Gov. Gavin Newsom‘s statewide protective mask order.
In advance of the event, responding to negative press and critical comments online, Feucht said in a Facebook post, “Government leaders voiced support for outdoor protests in recent months. They should not be condemning Christians seeking to gather in worship.”
He added that masks were “made available” and social distancing was encouraged.
Video from the event, however, showed hundreds, with no masks in sight, standing, dancing and singing very close together.
In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network that day, Feucht dismissed criticism of the events, insisting that state government was infringing on worshipers’ constitutional rights and that the worship services could help defray the psychological and spiritual toll of quarantine on Californians.
“If you’re going to try and blame churches, what about Home Depot?” Feucht said. “What about Costco and Walmart? It’s unfair, I believe, the way they target the church, and I honestly believe there’s an agenda behind it.”
Shasta County health authorities on July 23 warned attendees that Feucht’s events were likely unsafe and asked anyone who went to self-quarantine for 14 days afterward.
They pointed out that social distancing was not practiced and there was “much touching,” also noting that attendees didn’t wear masks.
“We truly empathize with all who have had to change the way they worship in the past few months,” health authorities wrote. “Very sadly, some of our local cases of COVID-19, including hospitalizations, have resulted from faith gatherings, and it’s critical that our faith community leaders continue to offer safe services that follow the state guidelines.”
Days after the Sundial Bridge event, Feucht rallied around 5,000, according to Fox News, for a “Let Us Worship” service on a San Diego beach.
3. Feucht Brought His Outdoor Worship Service to Portland to ‘Change the Narrative’ Surrounding Cities Engulfed in Historic Anti-Racist Protests
Oregon COVID rules cap faith gatherings at 50 people with physical distancing for indoors or outdoors. This event led by worship leader and political activist Sean Feucht in Portland clearly exceeds that number. pic.twitter.com/A9KUSGq4N7
— Kyle Iboshi (@KyleIboshi) August 9, 2020
On Aug. 8, Feucht brought his worship service to Portland, Oregon, then Seattle, Washington, the day after, drawing hundreds or thousands — depending on the outlet reporting.
Feucht told Fox & Friends Sunday morning that thousands flocked to the event, which was partially designed as a counter-narrative to the historic Black Lives Matter protests that have sprung up in virtually every major city since George Floyd’s killing in May.
“Where the world has only seen destruction and violence, we want to change the narrative and show that the church is rising up to change the storyline in our cities,” Feucht told the Fox hosts. “We’re not just going to watch our cities be burned and pillaged. We’re coming to bring hope and peace to the violence.”
Local news KATU 2, meanwhile, reported hundreds at the event, noting that almost no one wore face masks or coverings. Multnomah County health guidelines during he pandemic only allow for gatherings of 50 people whether indoors or out. Organizers are also supposed to require attendees to wear face masks and keep six feet between each attendee.
Julie Sullivan-Springhetti, Multnomah County Communications Director, told Heavy that the health department didn’t know exactly how many showed up for the event, but “large groups of people have been assembling in Portland and Waterfront Park for more than two months.” The health department’s guidance has been consistent though, no matter the reason for the gathering, she added.
“It is concerning to Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines that there were reports from the Sean Feucht event that some people were not maintaning distance and were not wearing masks,” Sullivan-Springhetti said. “And if people came from other places, as was reported, we may never know if there was transmission of COVID-19, as it can be very difficult to pinpoint whether transmission occurred at a mass gathering, even though we ask about it.”
Local news video showed some masked protesters confronting worshipers at the waterfront event over the lack of masks and social distancing. The KOIN anchor pointed out in the video that the group of protesters was also larger than 50 people.
4. The Portland & Seattle Events Drew Strong Criticism, But Feucht Said the Church ‘Will Not be Intimidated’
I'm at Cal Anderson Park for worship leader and conservative activist Sean Feucht's concert. Hundreds of people are packed together and singing. So far I've counted 2 masks. pic.twitter.com/rpFIDqf8Ki
— Casey Martin (@caseyworks) August 10, 2020
Local Seattle reporter Casey Martin covered Feucht’s Aug. 9 event and said that he counted as few as two masks at first, with the event clearly violating Gov. Jay Inslee’s statewide mask orders. At one point, Feucht told attendees to “reach out and touch the person next to you,” according to Martin’s reporting.
Martin interviewed some protesters who also headed to the event to urge attendees to follow public health guidelines — in frank language at times.
A local reporter walked up to Feucht during the service and asked him for comment on the event almost surely violating state safety guidelines. In the video, posted to Twitter, Feucht ignored the question and told some nearby followers, “Let’s get a picture.”
Counter protesters have been offering clean masks to all that approach to argue. So far no one has taken one. pic.twitter.com/w2d7xBPFdL
— Clint Kamstra (@ClintKamstra) August 9, 2020
Independent photojournalist Clint Kamstra documented the event and said that some protesters tried to hand out masks for attendees to wear, but the worshipers weren’t taking them.
Feucht on Monday posted a Tweet of photos from the Seattle event with the hashtag #LetUsWorship, saying, “The church will not be intimidated.”
— Sean Feucht (@seanfeucht) August 10, 2020
One user responded, calling the gatherings “stupid and irresponsible” and advising Feucht to go virtual with his worship services.
“No one is telling you that you can’t worship. No one,” Matt Nightingale, co-pastor of a “progressive Christian church,” said. “My church has been worshipping multiple times a week since we went into shelter in place in March. Virtual worship gatherings = real worship.”
Heavy reached out to Feucht for comment, but had not heard back as of Monday afternoon.
5. Feucht Ran Unsuccessfully as a Republican in California’s 2020 3rd Congressional District Primary
Feucht ran for Congress in California’s 3rd District primary this year, eventually losing with 13.5 to opponent Tamika Hamilton’s 27.3%, according to Ballotpedia.
In an interview with California outlet the Reporter, Feucht said he was running as an “outsider,” not a politician.
“I don’t owe anybody anything, and I want to represent the people and I want to bring a fresh change,” he said.
In February, during his campaign, he wrote and recorded a song, along with his four kids, about abortion, called “Raise Our Voice,” Fox News reported.
In December 2019, Feucht was one of about 50 faith leaders who went to the White House to pray for President Donald Trump as he was on the cusp of impeachment by the House of Representatives. Feucht defended his decision in a Tweet, saying,” When the President of the United States invites you inside the White House to worship and pray, you do it.”
When the President of the United States invites you inside the White House to worship and pray, YOU DO IT.@realDonaldTrump expressed the need for prayer over America and wisdom for this administration and we were honored and humbled to respond. 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽 https://t.co/ixhM7x1OG2
— Sean Feucht (@seanfeucht) December 7, 2019