A California pastor is receiving both praise and condemnation for hosting a “prayer protest” at the state’s capital that drew thousands. Sean Feucht has been in the news for weeks for his touring protests against large gathering bans. Now, after a Sacramento event prompted criticism, Feucht is having trouble finding venues for the rest of his tour.
Feucht held the Sacramento service/protest on Sunday, September 6 on the west side of the Capitol building. The event was part of an ongoing nationwide tour protesting bans on large gatherings which, Feucht says, infringe on the First Amendment rights of worshipers.
“GOD PRESIDES IN THE GREAT ASSEMBLY” – Psalm 82:1— Sean Feucht (@seanfeucht) September 6, 2020
Today is THE DAY the Lord has made. There will be some REJOICING in it on the steps of the State Capitol building in Sacramento from 5-8pm PST.
Subscribe for the ALERT for when we go live! 🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨https://t.co/1OG5YgK8tC pic.twitter.com/0aZj5M7qUM
“Powerful politicians and social media giants have engaged in unchartered abuses of religious liberty, silencing the faithful, banning our voices, and outright attacking our God-given right to declare His goodness,” Feuct wrote on his website, LetUsWorship.us.
Sunday’s rally went forward amid warnings from Governor Gavin Newsom to continue observing social distancing during the holiday weekend.
“Yes, it’s Labor Day weekend. No, that does not mean that #COVID19 has gone away,” Newson tweeted on Friday. “BE SMART. Don’t gather in large groups. Practice physical distancing. Wear a mask. Your actions this weekend can literally save lives.”
At the rally, however, Feucht told his followers to ignore such warnings.
“What if just for a moment we refused to buy into the pessimistic, skeptical media?” Feucht said. “What if, for a minute, we just decided to look in [the bible] and prophecize the promises of God?”
Difficulty Enforcing Guidelines
The California Highway Patrol (CHP), who provide law enforcement on Capitol grounds, had earlier banned large gatherings at the site during the outbreak. However, lawsuits prompted the agency the rescind the ban in June, so long as events “follow health and safety guidelines relating to wearing of masks and physical distancing.”
However, a CHP official said that these guidelines were largely ignored at the event.
“The majority of the participants gathered on the west steps and failed to socially distance,” said Jaime Coffee, CHP public information officer, in a press release.
Despite this, the CHP did not take action to enforce guidelines.
“Given the large number of people present for this event and the fact that it was a relatively short event, the on-scene manager made the decision to let the event continue to conclusion,” said Coffee. “Other factors involved in the decision [included] factoring in the resources needed to disperse a crowd of this size, safety of the participants, the time it would take, as well as other protest events in the Sacramento area.”
The CHP reportedly permitted the event for 1,000 attendees. While Feucht claimed that around 12,000 ultimately gathered, the CHP placed the final tally closer to 3,000.
Not Everyone’s Joyful
Experts have decried the event as a potential super-spreader of COVID-19.
“That’s really a recipe for transmission and can lead to further outbreaks not only among the people who are in attendance but their contacts, too,” Dr. Dean Blumberg, infectious disease expert, told CBS Sacramento.
“That’s a high-risk gathering, and I would recommend people self-quarantine after being in that kind of situation,” Dr. Blumberg added.
A little background: this summer, Feucht has been holding concerts up and down the west coast under the #LetUsWorship title. According to his website, the freedom to worship God is under attack by governors’ orders and social media censorship. Below is the text from his website. pic.twitter.com/4tzWO2kEeC— Vanessa Misciagna (@Vanessa_K5) September 8, 2020
While the CHP looked the other way on Feucht’s Sunday event, he was not so lucky in Seattle, Washington the next day. A demonstration planned for Gas Works Park was moved to the streets after the city closed the venue ahead of “anticipated crowding.”
“Seattle Parks and Recreation does not allow unpermitted public events to take place in Seattle parks, and asks the public to continue to adhere to current public health guidelines so that we can keep our parks open,” a statement from the city read.
Over 40 Infected With COVID-19 After Multi-Day Church Event
One Sick Churchgoer Causes Nearly 100 COVID-19 Infections
Florida Teen Dies Of Coronavirus After Attending Church & Being Treated With Hydroxychloroquine