“We believe in this place of devastation, God sends out a sound of hope and healing, peace and unity,” Feucht said in the video. “And that’s what we come to bring today.”
The concerts have drawn criticism for bringing together hundreds or thousands of people, most without masks, during the coronavirus pandemic. Some Christians have also expressed frustration at what they see as Feucht trying to upstage people protesting systemic racism and police use of force.
Feucht began holding outdoor concerts after government leaders implemented restrictions on religious gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic, he told Religion News Service. The concerts began as a way to push back against those guidelines, Feucht said, but have expanded to focus on cities experiencing protests and riots following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“We just feel this call to really target cities that are extremely restless, desperate and broken,” Feucht said this month in a podcast with health supplement entrepreneur David James Harris Jr. “That’s why we been to places like Portland, downtown Portland a block away from the riots, we’ve been to Seattle, the old CHOP area… God is really writing a different story there.
Feucht, who ran for Congress this year as a Republican but lost in a California primary, once prayed with President Trump at the White House. Although his church is non-denominational, it began as part of the Pentecostal denomination’s Assemblies of God, whose members believe the Holy Spirit is active in the modern world and can perform miracles.
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Earlier this summer, Bethel Church in Redding, Calif., where Feucht serves as a volunteer worship leader, released a statement after one of his events, expressing concern about “the potential negative impact a such event could have on the recovery and reopening of Shasta County as we navigate COVID-19.
In an email to The Washington Post, a Bethel spokesperson wrote a statement of support on behalf of Feucht, who is not financially supported by the church.
“Sean Feucht’s mission is to bring worship, prayer, healing and unity to a landscape of division, violence and unrest through the power and presence of Jesus,” the statement read. “We love this view and commend him for leading his beliefs.”
A spokeswoman for Feucht did not immediately respond to questions from the Post.
DL Mayfield, a self-proclaimed progressive Christian writer, said she and her husband protested Feucht’s concert in Portland last month because she saw it as an attempt to delegitimize protesters’ demands for a police overhaul . She said she was embarrassed by Feucht’s apparent lack of connections to the cities he visits, his fundraising on the tour and his songs focus on triumphing over God, rather than praying for justice.
“We just wanted to remind them that the very space they were singing on was a space where people were demanding justice and that black lives really matter in our country,” Mayfield said. “And we didn’t think just singing a bunch of praise songs was an appropriate response.”
Mayfield carried a sign that quoted a Bible verse about rejecting “loud hymns of praise” in favor of seeing “a flood of righteousness, an endless river of righteous living.”
“I see the protests as a prayer walk with a lot of people,” she said. “I attend protests very prayerfully. And, to me, that’s much more in line with historic Christian tradition.
According to Randall Stephens, historian and author of “The Devil’s Music: How Christians Inspired, Condemned, and Embraced Rock n Roll.”
When Feucht lost his congressional race, he poured his energies into outdoor rallies, according to Religion News Service.
“When Covid shut down everything, he turned to this crusade,” Stephens said. “Maybe that helped him make sense of that loss. There’s something powerful about the feeling of being part of a movement and among like-minded people.
Larry Eskridge, a historian who has studied the evangelical Jesus People movement, which became popular in the 1960s and 1970s, said he sees similarities between it and what Feucht is trying to do. This charismatic movement helped create subgenres of Christian music and encouraged individuals to reject a lifestyle of drugs, sex, and rock and roll and seek God instead.
Feucht taps into a larger desire to wake up, to go out and be with other people, Eskridge said. He said these types of conservative Christians believe that God will protect them, even in a pandemic.
“Meeting regulations are seen as a violation and an insult to God,” Eskridge said. “To interfere with revival is to interfere with the work of God.”
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