WASHINGTON (RNS) — Christian musician Sean Feucht held a politically charged concert in front of thousands on the National Mall Sunday night (Oct. 25), framing his performance as a protest against restrictions on churches but also voicing opposition to abortion and celebrating the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Throngs of worshipers braved colder temperatures and drizzles of rain in the nation’s capital, though the crowd appeared to fall short of the 15,000 people organizers had expected.
Nevertheless, neither the crowd nor Feucht appeared deterred by the weather at the event, where politics took centerstage alongside praise songs and preaching.
Billed as the culmination of Feucht’s nationwide “Let Us Worship” tour, the concert was originally focused on voicing frustration with restrictions on houses of worship during the pandemic. His performances have frequently featured large crowds singing in tight groups without masks, flouting local guidelines and the recommendations of health experts who note several outbreaks of COVID-19 have happened during worship services.
The singer has also received pushback from faith leaders for his efforts, and his planned concert caused controversy in Washington: Although the National Park Service oversees the National Mall and granted a permit for the event, it appears to have violated Washington’s COVID-19 restrictions, which prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people.
Feucht, who has been critical of media coverage of his tour, did not respond to requests for comment on this article.
Despite the tour’s previous focus on the pandemic, Feucht — who ran for Congress as a Republican this year in California but placed third in an open primary with less than 14 percent of the vote — was quick to draw attention to a different political drama unfolding in the U.S. Capitol building behind him on Sunday: The Senate held a procedural vote that same day on whether to place Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative Catholic, on the U.S. Supreme Court. (The vote passed, and Barrett is expected to be formally confirmed to the court on Monday.)
Feucht and other speakers at the event repeatedly drew connections between Barrett’s nomination and the anti-abortion movement. Shouting into the microphone, Feucht said that “we’ve been praying for this since 1973” — a reference to the year the Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide.
“Tonight is going to be a night where things shift in America for the unborn!” Feucht said, as the crowd cheered in response.
The political subtext grew even more explicit when Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri addressed the crowd, saying he had just voted to further Barrett’s nomination process. He then led the masses in prayer for her.