Obviously, we’re in a pandemic right now, and large gatherings have been frowned upon (and generally banned) for the better part of the year.
But Christian singer/politician/missionary Sean Feucht held what he called a “worship protest” in downtown Nashville this weekend, drawing an estimated crowd of 10,000 mostly-maskless worshipers to the steps of the courthouse – and also drawing an investigation by the city.
A police officer escorting me out tonight said he estimated 9000-10,000 worshippers filled the courthouse steps in downtown Nashville!
Feucht has held similar events in other cities across the country as part of his “Let Us Worship” tour in protest of lockdowns and restrictions on worship services resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Nashville officials said that the organizers of Sunday’s event did not apply for a permit for the gathering and that the Metro Public Health Department would be investigating. The Health Department also said in a statement that they will “pursue appropriate penalties against the organizer.”
Online reaction to the event has been mixed (because what can people really agree on these days?) But some are calling Feucht reckless, saying that it’s irresponsible to hold such a large, non-social-distanced event during a pandemic. Still others called Mayor John Cooper a hypocrite for investigating a religious gathering after the mayor personally joined protestors in the streets earlier this year.
Even some local religious leaders questioned Feucht’s framing of the event as a protest against the silencing of worshipers, pointing out that churches in Nashville are open and continuing with in-person services.
Another Nashville Pastor, here. The church isn’t silenced in town. In fact, many of us were meeting at the same time your “ protest” took place. I admire your moxie and your desire to bring worship and singing to the people, just don’t do it under the guise of “persecution”…… https://t.co/peB17B1A37
Hey buddy. Nobody is silencing the church in Nashville. Our church met today and had thousands show up for baptism in a nice socially distanced/masked way…
Cause we are in a pandemic.
I think it’s irresponsible to claim being silenced. Cause that’s not the cause in Nashville 🖤
Nashville’s music community has been hit especially hard by the pandemic, with travelling gigs all but drying up and musicians who make their living in local bars being out of work as the city has struggled to gain control of the pandemic.
And some musicians saw Feucht’s outdoor concert as just another slap in the face to the already-struggling music community, one that could prolong the city’s shutdown and keep them out of work for even longer than they’ve already been.
This was a slap in the face to our musicians and their crews, here in Nashville and all over the country, who haven't been able to provide for their families since March.
For now, I guess we’ll have to wait and see if the city does decide to take action against Feucht for his event – and hope that the “protest” doesn’t cause a spike in infections that leads to further shutdowns.