Home Christian News Sean Feucht Event Sparks Political Controversy in Eastern Washington

Sean Feucht Event Sparks Political Controversy in Eastern Washington

Sean Feucht
Musician Sean Feucht, from left, pastor Matt Shea and others pray over Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward, center, during a “Let Us Worship” event in Spokane, Wash., Aug. 20, 2023. Video screen grab via Twitter/@josephdpeterson

(RNS) — The mayor of Spokane, Washington, is fielding criticism for participating in a controversial worship concert over the weekend, with detractors saying she associated herself with a Christian nationalist and neglected to respond to victims of wildfires raging in the region.

The “Let Us Worship” event was hosted by Sean Feucht, a conservative musician and activist who garnered a following during the height of the pandemic for hosting large, in-person concerts across the country to protest restrictions on worship services. During the weekend gathering in Spokane, Feucht was joined onstage by Pastor Matt Shea, a former state lawmaker who was kicked out of the state Republican caucus after an independent investigation found him guilty of domestic terrorism due to his involvement with the armed takeover of Oregon’s Malheur Wildlife Refuge in 2016.

According to footage Sunday (Aug. 20) shared on social media by critical attendee Joseph Peterson, Shea, who oversees On Fire Ministries, welcomed Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward to the stage at some point during the event. After asking people in the crowd to extend their hands, Shea launched into a prayer, asking God to provide a “blessing over the leaders you have chosen for this time” and insisting the Almighty encourage Woodward and other political leaders to “stand on the foundation, the rock of Jesus Christ.”

Shea added: “And no matter what anybody says around them, they will glorify and honor and praise you in every single thing they do.”

Feucht also prayed over Woodward, asking God to offer her and her team “revelatory wisdom and insight on how to steward what you want to do in this region.”

After a third person prayed, insisting the “government sits on (God’s) shoulders,” Woodward exited the stage, embracing both Feucht and Shea as she left.

Woodward’s appearance immediately sparked outcry. Critics questioned her association with Feucht and Shea as well as her decision to attend the gathering amid wildfires that swept through the region over the weekend, killing at least two and damaging dozens of homes.

According to FaVs News, local religious leaders were among those to express outrage at Woodward’s appearance. Among them was Mark Finney, pastor of Emmaus church in Spokane, who declared on Facebook that “when community leaders publicly fraternize with those who espouse hatred, racism, and violence, it validates toxic ideologies and makes them seem ‘normal’ to the watching world.”

Political figures also spoke out: Lisa Brown, a mayoral candidate who is running against Woodward, shared Peterson’s footage on X (formerly known as Twitter) and called on Woodward to disavow Shea, whom she described as “an anti-woman anti-LGBTQ extremist, associated w political violence.” Brown lamented that Woodward was “on the stage with (Shea) while fires rage in our county.”

Woodward eventually issued a statement distancing herself from both Shea and the event, accusing the pastor of choosing to “politicize a gathering of thousands of citizens who joined together yesterday to pray for fire victims and first responders.” She only attended the event, she said, to “join with fellow citizens to begin the healing process”—referring to the wildfires.

But Shea fired back on Monday evening, saying on X that Woodward had agreed to attend the event months before the blazes began and that the gathering “wasn’t for ‘fire victims.’”