Missionary and political activist Sean Feucht has slammed officials in Seattle for their “hypocrisy” in shuttering a local park to prevent him from hosting a prayer rally on Labor Day while allowing protesters to engage in "looting" and "riots."
Feucht, who has helped local pastors host 19 prayer rallies in defiance of coronavirus guidelines in 19 cities over the last eight weeks, reacted to the closure of the Gas Works Park by Seattle Parks and Recreation after officials announced the park would be closed all day Monday “due to anticipated crowding that could impact the public health of residents.”
“This is the height of hypocrisy for the city of Seattle to turn a blind eye to riots, looting, and AntiFa, while refusing to let Christians gather in a public park to sing and worship,” Feucht said in a statement. “First the government shuts down churches. Now it’s shutting down parks to stop us from worshipping. Time to stand up church!”
Park officials explained in a statement Friday that the decision was taken to shutter the park because they anticipate people would attend the event and flout social distancing protocol. Previous attendees at Feucht’s rallies reportedly did not wear masks or practice social distancing.
“Out of concerns for the safety of all those who visit Gas Works Park we have opted to close the entire park for the day,” park officials said.
“Seattle Parks and Recreation has been committed to keeping parks open during this pandemic as they provide critical physical and mental health supports to our community. However, we are also committed to ensuring that parks do not become spaces where COVID-19 is transmitted. Prolonged close contact with a large group, without the use of a mask, is the type of behavior that public health experts have determined to hold a high risk for transmission of COVID-19,” they continued. “The closure will begin at 8 pm on Sunday, September 6 and will end at 6:00 am on Tuesday, September 8. The City of Seattle is not issuing permits to any events during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Feucht, who previously ran an unsuccessful congressional campaign, is connected to Bethel Church in Redding, California, but the church has sought to distance itself from him.
“The leadership is having ongoing conversations and discussions about this event, different events, also some things that were said from the podium,” a communications director for Bethel Church told a local TV news channel after a similar event in Redding. “We value people’s freedom to express themselves but we also really value the safety of our region and that’s why we’ve limited activities at church, social distancing, not having services and that’s what we’ve been doing as a church at this time.”
In his response to the park closure, Feucht said that despite acknowledging that parks “provide critical physical and mental health supports to our community,” and their support of “First Amendment gatherings,” park officials “still chose to temporarily shut down the entire park rather than risk Christians gathering for an open-air worship service.”