More than 2,000 Christians gathered in the streets of Seattle in a “worship protest” Monday in defiance of public officials, who shuttered a local park to prevent them from participating in a prayer rally organized by missionary and political activist Sean Feucht.
The rally was supposed to take place in Gas Works Park by Seattle Parks and Recreation but officials abruptly announced the park would be closed all day Monday “due to anticipated crowding that could impact the public health of residents.”
“They shut the park, so we took the WORSHIP PROTEST to the streets!! The church of Seattle WILL NOT be silenced! Over 2000 took to the streets and GOD LIT THE PLACE UP with miracles, baptisms, salvations, racial reconciliation (with the police!) and HOPE!!” Feucht wrote.
Feucht, who has helped local pastors host 19 prayer rallies in defiance of coronavirus guidelines in 19 cities over the last eight weeks, told KIRO 7 that he believes the shuttering of the park to his gathering was “blatant discrimination.”
“If this was about COVID that would be one thing,” he said. “But this is about a blatant discrimination against Christians because the same questions were not asked and are still not asked about protesters.”
Park officials explained in a statement Friday that the decision was made to shutter the park because they anticipated that people would gather 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.
One man who attended the rally but did not give his name to KIRO 7 agreed that Seattle officials were not being fair when they shuttered the park to the Christian group.
“The opposite side of it is the CHOP,” he said. “They open it up and let them do whatever they want but they don’t let Christians come here and peaceably assemble. I don’t understand the hypocrisy of that.”
Kelly Seiben told KOMO News that she believes the city was targeting Christians, and others like Joyce Seiben agreed.
“We were not there to cause any harm but just to lift the name of Jesus,” Seiben said.
Pastor Michael Lee, who leads All Nations Community Church in Bellevue, said regardless of the actions of protesters, Christians needed to do the responsible thing and not gather in large numbers.
“I feel like it’s a responsible thing to do for a Christians to minimize the spread and risk of COVID," said Lee. “You can do all of those things in smaller group contexts.”