WASHINGTON — Hundreds of people gathered on the National Mall Sunday evening to participate in a "worship protest" organized by Evangelical singer Sean Feucht, as a form of protest against the restrictions placed on churches during the pandemic. There was prayer, singing and baptisms, but virtually no social distancing or mask-wearing.
Sunday's event was the final stop of Feucht’s “Let Us Worship” tour, which has seen Feucht leading worship concerts all across the country over the past few months, demanding that churches be reopened. Past events have been held in Nashville, Pittsburgh, Orlando, Charleston and Colorado Springs.
"States across America have shut down church services and even outlawed singing in church," Feucht's website says, describing the impetus for his tour. "Instagram and Twitter is censoring Christian voices every single day ... It’s time for the Church to rise up with one voice and tell our government leaders and the rulers of big tech that we refuse to be silenced!"
Feucht chronicled his time in D.C. on his Twitter account, including a visit to the White House, and several impromptu worship concerts around town, where attendees were mostly maskless.
"It was supposed to be a small group of leaders hippie style on the grass and turned into 1000+ friends," Feucht said of one "communion" held on the Mall Saturday. "Man oh man if this is any indication of tomorrow ..."
According to Feucht's Twitter, the day started with a concert on the steps of the Supreme Court, that he called "the largest prayer meeting in front of the Supreme Court since Roe V Wade.” The main event was held in front of the Capitol from 4 to 8 p.m.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) took the stage to pray over Supreme Court nominee Jude Amy Coney Barrett, whose Senate confirmation is expected Monday. Feucht himself has run for political office, losing in the primaries in a race for California’s 3rd Congressional District.
Feucht’s tour has received criticism from not only public health officials but from other faith leaders – as participants, including Feucht's staff, are seen not wearing masks or abiding by social distancing restrictions per CDC.
The permit for Feucht's event lists a COVID-19 mitigation plan that includes masks and gloves for the crew, sanitization of high-touch areas backstage, sanitation stations outside portable restrooms, and "a sign placed at the table where we will give away Bibles."
"While the National Park Service strongly encourages social distancing, the use of face coverings and other measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, we will not require nor enforce their use," according to an official with the National Park Service.
The National Park Service said they have posted signs throughout the National Mall highlighting the CDC's recommendations and are asking visitors to follow that guidance to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
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The District remains in Phase 2 of their reopening plan, as Mayor Muriel Bowser announced earlier this month that the District's Public Health Emergency order has been extended until Dec. 31, 2020. Currently, in Phase 2, mass gatherings are only permitted up to 50 people. Certain activities, like churches, are allowed to increase that number if requested and approved from a waiver.