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Sean Feucht & Far-Right Christians Descend on Washington, D.C. for Sept. 11 ‘Let Us Worship’ Event

To commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks, Redding-based Christian singer, songwriter and worship leader Sean Feucht hosted a two-day “Let Us Worship” event at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The event took place on September 11 and 12 and attracted hundreds of attendees. The first night’s show lasted nearly three hours, and the second night’s lasted nearly four hours. Hold the Line, a religious and political activist organization launched by Feucht in 2020 after his unsuccessful run for Congress in California’s 3rd District, sponsored the event.

Advertisement for the “Let Us Worship” event on September 11th

As stated on the organization’s website, Hold the Line’s goal is to “engage with the church and with millennials in a way that charges them to become more politically active.”

The first night of the two-day “Let Us Worship” event consisted of a series of guest speakers and music, while the second night consisted mostly of music.

In addition to the shows on both nights, Feucht and the team of musicians, pastors, and activists joining him in the nation’s capital also lead a series of unplugged concerts and informal prayer sessions in front of the White House, the Supreme Court Building, the Lincoln Memorial, and other locations on September 12.

Sean Feucht leading a group in prayer and live music in front of the White House on September 12th.

More mages of Sean Feucht leading group in prayer and live music in front of the White House.

The prayer session in front of the United States Supreme Court Building, while not led by Feucht, was centered around praying for the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Young and middle-aged white people comprised a majority of the crowd on both nights; this in a city where the white population makes up less than half the population. The event marked the second “Let Us Worship” visit to the nation’s capital. The first,  which received considerably less attention, took place in November of 2020.

In the last year and a half, Feucht has hosted “Let Us Worship” events in more than 120 cities across the United States. The music is performed by Feucht and Bethel Music label friends. Throughout the show Feucht preaches and conducts faith healing activities as different pastors are intermittently invited to the stage to speak between songs.

Sean Feucht’s Bethel Church Roots & Revolt Against COVID-19 Mandates

Feucht started “Let Us Worship” shows in 2020 as a protest against Governor Gavin Newsom’s classification of churches as “non-essential.” He hosted the first “Let Us Worship” event in his home city of Redding under the Sundial Bridge in July of 2020 as COVID-19 cases skyrocketed in Shasta County.

A mob of  believers crowd the pathway for a glimpse of the area where Sean Feucht spoke and musicians performed. Photo by Steve DuBois.

Attendees to “Let Us Worship” events, as witnessed in Washington, D.C., are not expected to wear masks or practice social distancing measures. Feucht has publicly denied that COVID-19 is a threat to society, and he is friends with religious and political leaders who are against the vaccination, and safety mandates to combat the deadly disease.

The “Let Us Worship” event in Washington, D.C. took place as COVID-19 cases skyrocketed in the nation’s capital. Daily cases averaged 150. Health officials considered unvaccinated individuals, which likely represented a significant portion of attendees to the show, as “very high risk.”

Feucht has continued to find support from Bill and Beni Johnson, leaders of Bethel Church in Redding. Feucht shared a poster for the event on Instagram a few weeks before it took place in order to help advertise it to his more than 300,000 followers, while the Johnsons shared a short video of the live feed on September 11.

Bill Johnson, the leader of Bethel Church, and his wife Beni, advertise Feucht’s “Let Us Worship” event on Instagram.

In the days leading up to the event, Feucht thanked Bill Johnson on Instagram for being his “spiritual father.”

The recording of Day One’s “Let Us Worship” livestream attracted more than 360,000 views in the first week alone.

Feucht’s First High-Profile “Let Us Worship” Show Since Portland

The September 11 and 12 “Let Us Worship” events at the National Mall counted as Feucht’s first high-profile performance since August 8, when he hosted it in Portland.

Feucht received national attention for his Portland event because he hired a paramilitary force composed of graduates of the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, far-right Christian extremists, ex-law enforcement officials, and military veterans to provide security.

On the day of the Portland event, Feucht shared a picture of himself with the security force on his Facebook page and posted: “If you mess with them or our 1st amendment right to worship God, you’ll meet Jesus one way or another.”

The paramilitary force was organized by Andrey Ivanov, a Vancouver-based right-wing Christian youth group leader. At one point, his brother Tim Ivanov, allegedly pushed a woman and her bike to the ground without provocation. A Black Lives Matter flag was also ripped from a pole carried by someone.

The presence of the security force, which was at least a few dozen in number, encouraged an even more extreme element to attend as members of both members of Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys showed up. Feucht’s security team, including the Ivanov brothers, joined forces with this even more extreme element after the event to fight against counter protesters in downtown Portland.

Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, a known member of the Proud Boys with a violent history was caught on video shouting out strategic directives to the Ivanov brothers and other members of Feucht’s security team as they proceeded down one dark street in a line formation to push against counter-protesters.

Top: Screenshots of Toese at “Let Us Worship” event. Bottom: Shots of Toese at other protest events and his assaulting of counter-protester in 2017.

Feucht later released a video montage of the days events which depicted Toese in a highly positive manner.

Feucht’s Portland show also attracted the Vitaliy Ponomarev and Igor Ponomarev, Russian American brothers from the Vancouver-Portland area. Both have violent histories and have been witnessed at various far-right protest events. Vitaliy has a criminal history riddled with substance abuse issues. He drove recklessly through a crowd of counter-protesters in Portland in his full-size Dodge crew cab truck after Feucht’s event.

Igor, who has a penchant for posing with guns in photographs on his Facebook page, hit a counter-protester with a metal pole.

ANTIFA supporters and other activists showed up to protest Feucht’s position as a COVID-denier, his public condemning of not only ANTIFA, but also Black Lives Matter, and the fact that he formed a paramilitary force to provide security while also attracting members of far-right, and white and Christian supremacist groups.

Feucht’s support for a dominionistic society and his anti-urban and patriarchal worldview has also drawn increasing criticism.

While Chris Overstreet, a former Bethel Church evangelist and a graduate of the church’s Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry who now resides in Vancouver and who helped organize the Portland “Let Us Worship” event took to social media to do damage control after news got out that members of the Proud Boys and other far-right organizations attended the event, Feucht also took to social media but his message was different.

Super Over These Woke Passive Christians”

Feucht went live on Facebook the day after the Portland event to express he  was “super over these woke passive Christians” who refuse to fight back, and that he had “no problem with having security at the event,” because people needed to be protected.

Feucht’s Bethel Church-inspired militant Christianity displayed in Portland signaled a new and more radical direction for him. It signaled a desire to meld far-right individuals and violent organizations with Christianity.

While his show in Portland brought together Christianity and far-right militancy, the “Let Us Worship” event at the National Mall melded far-right politics and Christianity in an even more blatant manner.

Feucht called for a “third Great Awakening,” at his Washington, D.C. “Let Us Worship” show, which broke from tradition by including a long list of politicians and pastors seeking to influence American politics with their far-right beliefs.

Josh Hawley, a Trump loyalist and United State Senator from Missouri, who many argue provoked the insurrection in Washington, D.C. on January 6, spoke on Day 2 of the “Let Us Worship” event.

Hawley’s short speech centered mainly around his support for the defeating of Roe v. Wade.

Feucht echoed Hawley’s stance, while joining him on stage and stating that he also hoped to see the “death decree of Roe v. Wade overturned.”

U.S. Senator from Missouri, Josh Hawley speaking to “Let Us Worship” crowd

Feucht’s attempt to bring militancy, far-right politics, and Christianity together is not new, but it has changed the tune of his detractors. Critics have increasingly referred to him as a Christofascist as opposed to simply, “Dollar Store Jesus.”

Feucht Plays Only Two Songs During First Hour, Breaking from Tradition

Unlike previous “Let Us Worship” shows, Feucht only performed two songs during the first hour of Day 1. With his long golden locks of hair resting on a black T-shirt with a white “Let Us Worship” logo, he and the band opened the show with “There is a Name,” a song which appears on the 2018 album “Wild” – the first album he released on the Bethel Music label.

The album version of “There is a Name” was recorded live at Bethel Church. Feucht broke from the lyrics in the middle of the song to repeatedly sing “our God reigns” before shouting “come on declare it over the capitol” and “declare it over the White House!” as the former floated far in the background behind the stage.

Sean Feucht and his accompanying band performing “There is a Name.”

After “There is a name,” Feucht and the band performed “Way Maker,” a popular contemporary Christian music hit written by Nigerian Pentecostal worship leader and songwriter Osinachi Kalu Okoro Egbu which has been covered by a number of Bethel Music label artists and others.

The original version of “Way Maker” has been viewed over one hundred and fifty million times on Facebook and sat at the top of the Christian music chart for over twelve weeks after its 2015 release.

Sean Feucht and his accompanying band performing “Way Maker.”

As Feucht gleefully belted out the lyrics of “Way Maker,” singing about how God brings light to the darkness, an attendee in the crowd close to the stage started waving the Tree Flag.

The Tree Flag is white and it includes a green pine tree and the words “An Appeal to Heaven.” It was one of the flags adopted by supporters of the American Revolution but, in more recent times, it has adopted by Christian and far-right activists.

Trump, the Star Attraction

Donald Trump was the most high-profile individual to speak at the “Let Us Worship” event. Feucht and Eric Metaxas, a right-wing extremist author, speaker and radio show host, who also spoke at the event, met with Trump a few days before it took place.

This was Feucht’s second meeting with Trump, the first coming in 2019 when he and nearly 50 other evangelicals met with the president in the White House amidst his impeachment. Metaxas has repeatedly claimed on social media that Biden did not win the presidency.

Feucht invited the last four sitting presidents to attend the event, because as he cited during the show in a fashion that did not make sense, he “felt like it was important for us to pray over the government of leaders.”

Trump was the only president to take up Feucht’s offer, and he spoke on a pre-recorded video broadcasted to the crowd on two large screens.

The video began with a shot of Marine One approaching the White House as fervent classical stringed music played in the background.

Then came Feucht’s voiceover introduction of Trump.

He stood and fought for us” and “he stood for conservatives and defended family values” explained Feucht regarding the former president who was married three times and cheated on two of his wives. In 2016, Trump had a widely known affair with pornographic actress Stormy Daniels whom he paid off to prevent from disclosing the affair while married to his current wife Melania.

He stood for Christians and fought for our freedom to worship,” continued Feucht, who also claimed that “no president has endured the onslaught of attacks that he faced from the media, big tech corporations, and big business” who “went after him tooth and nail but he never backed down.”

As the music built up, Trump exited the helicopter, puffed his chest up, and walked across the grass. He then appeared in a room for his approximately nine-minute-long speech and began his talk by thanking Feucht and his “Let Us Worship” team for hosting the event and for brining their show to cities across the country over the last year and a half.

Images from Donald Trumps pre-recorded “Let Us Worship” speech.

Trump Is Not Well-Liked in New York City

After citing the importance of honoring the memory of every individual killed during the September 11 attacks, he cited that “as a life-long New Yorker, it was extraordinary to witness the strength and resilience of people of that incredible city” and the people “that raced into danger toward the smoke without a thought of their own safety.”

Needless to say, Trump is not popular in New York City. In fact, every voting precinct on the island of Manhattan voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election race.

In the precinct home to One World Trade Center, 84 percent of voters selected Biden. Neighboring precincts reported even higher numbers, some reaching 90 percent.

Trump thanked first responders and military personnel. He also explained that President Biden made a “terrible decision” by removing troops from Afghanistan despite the fact that he helped lay the groundwork for the withdrawing of the United States military from the country and the release of Taliban prisoners.

As his short speech ended the crowd chanted “Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump!”

Eric Metaxas Follows Trump

Eric Metaxas took the stage after the chants for Trump simmered down, and like the former president, gave a speech less then then ten minutes long. He and Feucht met with Trump in the days before the event.

Trump also provided Feucht and his family with a suite at his Trump International Hotel Washington D.C.

Top: Eric Metaxas introduces Sean Feucht to Donald Trump (even though he met Trump at the White House in 2019) – Bottom: The three meet indoors.

Donald Trump and Sean Feucht posing for a picture during pre-“Let Us Worship” event.

Metaxas began his speech by claiming that September 11 attacks happened because “people hate freedom.”

Metaxas claimed that Communist China, radical Islamists, the Talban, and “people in this country who have bought into a woke Marxist ideology that is fundamentally anti-American that will hurt the poor, and that is against the God who gave us the freedom we have” are the “enemies of freedom.”

He also rambled on about the “deep state” and “career politicians” before quoting Abraham Lincoln in incredibly nonsensical fashion.

Lincoln’s statement in the Gettysburg Address that “this nation under God, shall have a new birth of freedom” was prophetic cited Metaxas, and not only this, but it did not come to fruition until the present and is a result of revivals like “Let Us Worship” and “crying out the Jesus.”

Metaxas continued by stating that now is the time to fight for freedom and that and that we need to fight on our knees in prayer. As he closed out his speech, he made less and less sense, encouraging the crowd at one point to join school boards to fight for freedom – something that far-right minded individuals are attempting to accomplish in the Northstate and across the country.

Metaxas closed with a prayer that included a statement about the need to save people from ANTIFA and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Eric Metaxas at “Let Us Worship Event” and posing with Donald Trump at the pre-event meeting.

Far-Right Christian California Represented

A collection of far-right Christian pastors, writers, and activists from California also spoke at the “Let Us Worship” event. The first to do so was Phil Hotsenpiller, a Senior Pastor and cofounder of Influence Church in Anaheim Hills.

Hotsenpiller, who regularly preaches in front of a large image of the American flag, is part of a group of Christian leaders in Orange County who have encouraged their church followings to embrace far-right politics. He and others are working within a tradition of far-right politics in Orange County that date back to the Cold War anti-Communist hysteria of the 1950s and 1960s.

Hotsenpiller recently launched a news network that covers current events from a far-right biblical perspective known as American Faith and he refers to journalists working for him as “soldiers.”

He has also called for the waging of war against left-leaning social justice advocates and COVID-19 safety mandates. Like Feucht, he couches much of his rhetoric in the language of warfare.

Needless to say, Hotsenpiller has refused to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. He also, however, claimed that fear of the virus is an offense to God because “corona” is the Latin word for “crown.”

Pastor Phil Hotsenpiller speaking at the “Let Us Worship Event

Similar to Feucht, Hotsenpiller has also spoken out against Black Lives Matter, arguing that it is wrong because it supports “black supremacy.” He has also argued that churches should stay away from the issue of race.

We have black congregation members” and “a black person on staff,” claimed Hotsenpiller in an August interview. “It’s not like we’re a lily-white Orange County church,” he continued.

Hotsenpiller speaks a lot about race and racism for someone who has argued it should be left alone by the church.

In July, Influence Church hosted My Pillow founder Mike Lindell, an outspoken Trump loyalist and purveyor of misinformation.

Before his short speech ended, Hotsenpiller echoed Metaxas’s words stating that he hoped Washington, D.C. would “be the place where revival breaks out.”

Godless, Communist, California

Hotsenpiller was followed by Pastor Ché Ahn, the pastor of Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena. Ahn is also the founder and president of Harvest International Ministry, a global reformation movement in over sixty nations with ties to five thousand churches and organizations, as well as the International Chancellor of Wagner University.

Harvest Rock Church, which has more than 150 locations in California alone, won a legal victory from the Supreme Court in 2021, which granted a partial injunction against the closing of churches in California due to COVID-19 mandates.

On the eve of the January 6 insurrection in Washington, D.C., at a “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C., Ahn claimed “I believe that this week we’re going to throw Jezebel out and Jehu’s gonna rise up, and we’re gonna rule and reign through President Trump and under the lordship of Jesus Christ.”

Pastor Ché Ahn speaking at the “Let Us Worship Event

After taking the stage, Ahn claimed, like others, that the “Let Us Worship” movement was giving birth to the “greatest revival in the history of the church.”

Ahn then shared the story of how his family immigrated from South Korea in 1960 then explained that the United States was “the greatest nation in the world,” despite the fact that it includes an the “extreme left” state of California.

He then falsely claimed Kim Il-Sung arrested all pastors in the late 1940s after taking control of North Korea and that Christians were persecuted in the country in order it to compare this to California’s COVID-19 mandates that banned indoor worshiping.

Communism is a Marxist ideology” and “they don’t believe in God” cited Ahn, who continued by stating that “because they don’t believe in God, they know that pastors will be the ones that will speak because we believe there’s a high authority than Stalin, or Newsom, or President Biden.”

After comparing North Korea to California and Joseph Stalin with Governor Newsom and President Biden, Ahn proclaimed, “We are now in the battle for the soul of this nation – socialism, Marxism, is coming, the ideology is creeping into California and we need to take a stand for righteousness.”

Rob McCoy on Totalitarianism & Abortion

Rob McCoy, the senior pastor at Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Thousand Oaks, California, also spoke at the “Let Us Worship” event. McCoy is the former mayor of Thousand Oaks and served on the City Council until he resigned rather than supporting COVID safeguards.

Thousand Oaks is a predominantly white, middle- and upper-class, and Republican community located along the southern border of Ventura County. It is not far from the northwestern border of Los Angeles County and is filled with upscale residential subdivisions. The median household income is more than 120,000lars and less than twenty seven percent of residents are rent their homes.

McCoy is also part of Turning Point USA, a nonprofit right-wing activist organization designed to “identify, educate, train, and organized students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government.”

Pastor Rob McCoy speaking at the “Let Us Worship” event.

 

McCoy claimed in the past that the “last variant of COVID will be totalitarianism.” Like others, he refused to shut down Godspeak Calvary Chapel as COVID-19 ravaged California.

McCoy resigned from the city council because he “swore to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” and because Governor Newsom designated churches as “non-essential.”

He also criticized Governor Newsom for designating abortion clinics as “essential” and falsely stated, in quite bizarre fashion, that “they would sell the baby parts and rip the baby in its mother’s womb and flush it into the sewer systems of our state.”

David Harris Jr. Brings the Emotion

The third Californian to speak on the first day of “Let Us Worship” was David Harris Jr., a conservative right-wing activist, author, and follower of Bethel Church from Redding.

Harris Jr. is an avid supporter of Trump, he has 1.4 million followers on Instagram and he spoke at a sold-out fundraising Red, White, and Blueprint event in Palo Cedro last April.

He also attended the Young Black Leadership Summit hosted by President Trump at the White House in 2018.

David Harris Jr. speaking at “Let Us Worship” event; – Bottom: Two videos of Harris Jr. on Instagram recorded in the Trump Hotel a few days before the event – in the bottom right image he is speaking with Donald Trump on the phone

Harris Jr. spoke about the sacrifice people serving in the United States military make and used his time on stage to exploit and politicize the killing of thirteen service members in Afghanistan earlier this month.

He then struggled to not cry while shouting “I get messages sent to me from all over the country from veterans who are hurting because they feel that what they did, the time they spent, was wasted on how we just left Afghanistan!”

The underlying message in Harris Jr’s short speech was that only right-wing Christians care for the troops overseas.

Harris Jr. was the most emotional speaker at the event, but it did not quite seem real. He ended his speech with a prayer for military service members.

Hotsenpiller’s, Ahn’s, McCoy’s, and Harris’s anti-California crusade came just days before Governor Gavin Newsom defeated the movement to recall him.

Feucht Prays for President Biden & Vice President Kamala Harris

After returning to the stage for the remainder of the show, Feucht stopped the music at one point to lead a prayer for President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Feucht stated he was praying to God to “invade” Biden and Harris’s dreams and “release wisdom and revelation” upon them. “We pray tonight God that they would have an encounter that would forever change their life!” and “that they would have an encounter that would rock their world!” shouted Feucht.

Feucht’s request for God to invade the president and vice presidents dreams and his shouting for God to “rock their world” did not seem to be coming from a place of kindness.

Feucht’s melding of far-right politics with Christianity, witnessed in both Portland and Washington, D.C., is not new in the United States, but he has brought a hipster new age vibe to it. As the number of Christians in the United States hits a historic low while those who subscribe to no religion is at an all-time high, Feucht is seeking to mobilize his far-right base, make an even bigger name for himself, and of course, make money. 

In the name of Jesus.

Shawn Schwaller

Shawn Schwaller grew up in Red Bluff, California. He teaches for the Departments of History and Multicultural and Gender Studies at California State University, Chico, and has a Ph.D. in history. His research interests include the study of race and ethnic relations and identity politics in the contemporary history of California. Shawn can be reached at sschwaller@csuchico.edu

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