Missionary and activist Sean Feucht, who has been at the center of several large health mandate defying Christian gatherings since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, is now at odds with religious and nonprofit leaders in Los Angeles who oppose his two-day New Year’s worship event that kicked off on Skid Row.
Local activists like Jenna Kyle with the Poor People’s Campaign called Feucht’s services a “super spreader event.”
“They’re coming in with no masks, no social distance. They haven’t done either in their past events. Chicago tried to shut them down. New Orleans put out a statement that they regretted that they ever allowed the event to occur,” Kyle said.
“The world will tell you to not push in, not minister, not gather. But JESUS pushed in, He ministered, He gathered. Don’t be discouraged. FOLLOW JESUS!” he wrote on Facebook.
Those who gathered for worship — some with masks and some without — were met by a blockade of cars and others opposed to the outdoor event.
“We made it clear, if they want to come to this community with masks on, we’re OK,” said Pastor Stephe "Cue" Jn-Marie, who founded The Church Without Walls, according to CBSLA.
Southern California extended its stay-at-home order due to “an unprecedented surge in cases and hospitalizations.” While people are ordered to remain home and not mix with other households, outdoor activities are allowed for places of worship and political expression.
“We’re just coming, and we’re just praising,” Hina Sheik told CBSLA. “We’re not doing anything that’s illegal, we’re not doing anything that’s harming anyone.”
Feucht has been leading Let Us Worship events across the country, calling out “abuses of religious liberty” amid the pandemic and calling on the Church to rise up. He led an event in New Orleans last month that attracted thousands of people who mostly did not wear masks or practice social distancing, according to CBS Los Angeles.
Pete White, executive director of the L.A. Community Action Network, argued in a statement that Feucht’s “religious/political concerts target movements for racial justice, namely Black Lives Matter, while attempting to persuade his followers that pandemic related public health restrictions are nothing more than the persecution of Christians."
White said that nearly four houseless people die each day and that they’ve “created hand washing stations, secured masks and other protective gear, provided covid 19 education, secured partnerships with nonprofit health providers for rapid testing, created a mutual aid network that provided food and tools to shelter in place. This work was done to save lives because Los Angeles’ most vulnerable community had been abandoned.”
He contended that Feucht’s event on Skid Row “was particularly egregious because it’s a predominantly black community experiencing structural and institutional racism, injustices that rival conditions found in Third World countries.”
After the outcry, Feucht pushed back against his critics.
“The CBS LA NEWS did a hit piece on us tonight (not surprised) and they had a ‘pastor’ on that raged against me and actually said this line: ‘I don’t think you need to be living Jesus in LA right now.’ What professing Christians are saying right now against believers doing the things Jesus told us to do is mind-boggling! GOD, WAKE UP THE CHURCH IN AMERICA!!” the 37-year-old worship leader declared in a statement on social media.
The Los Angeles event continued on Thursday at Echo Park, where people prayed for revival, and is scheduled to move to Azusa Street and later, Higher Vision Church. The church has clarified that the Feucht-led event is not a function of the church but that it is merely providing an outdoor venue. While asking those who attend to take necessary precautions to protect themselves and others, the church added, “We refer those who are objecting to the United States Supreme Court, which has already made it very clear that the freedom of worship remains a protected right even during a pandemic.”
“We will enforce the public health rules,” Garcetti warned in a Deadline report, noting that residents should not be mixing with people outside their households. “We will have the LAPD patrolling the city to stop large gatherings.”
When asked specifically about Feucht’s events, he said: “I would encourage him, first of all, not to do it. If you care about human lives and what God has given us — this human life — don’t do it.”