COLUMN: Worship Protests – Fighting for God During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Worship and prayer are essential rituals many Christians among different denominations practice across the world. However, a recent worship protest in the United States has created a split in the Christian community on whether it is theologically right to do this or if it inherently wrong to host in-person worship services during a pandemic.

Sean Feucht, according to his website, is a self-described “missionary, artist, speaker, author, [and] activist.” He is the founder of movements such as Burn 24/7— a global worship and prayer movement that spans six continents and more than 250 cities— Light A Candle and Hold The Line. Feucht also delved into the realm of politics by placing and losing a bid in the California’s 3rd Congressional District back in March 2020.

Recently, he started a movement called #letusworship or “Riots to Revivals” across the U.S. to bring people together in worship during the COVID-19 pandemic. The reason for this movement, as stated in Sam Hailes’ article from Premier Christianity, comes from what Feucht calls “an unprecedented attack,” against the Lord and His word by “powerful politicians and social media giants,” which include abuses of religious liberties, silencing faith, banning Christian voices and attacking the “God-given right to declare His goodness.” Most of these complaints are in response to the country’s lockdown and slow reopen, which caused churches to shut down their services for an extended period.

This movement was first reported by Fox News back on July 13, 2020 with Feucht and 300 to 400 protesters gathering on the Golden State Bridge in California to protest the lockdown. Many shouted the movement’s popular phrase of “Let us worship” as they sang worship music and prayed. The protests have occurred from Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maine, Washington D.C., Oregon and most recently Nashville, Tennessee.

Photographs, social media posts and website updates show crowds in close proximity with no masks, which goes against state guidelines in those previously mentioned states.

Moreover, throughout these gatherings, organizers did not obtain a permit to assemble nor abide the gathering limits allowed for outside events. According to USA Today, Nashville officials reported that organizers did not apply for a permit to host the event. The Metro Public Health Department planning an investigation into the gathering.

Although worship is a crucial aspect to the Evangelical faith, does this performance contrast with the Christian ideas of obeying authorities and law? Are Christians really displaying their love of God and neighbor through these worship protests? What response should Christians have to this recent development?

The polarization and integration of politics into faith is something that many Christian communities try to avoid since the inclusion of politics would taint the Christian faith. However, some argue that politics, especially in today’s climate, is an important area for Christians to be involved in. Others claim this worship “movement” is a prime example of this integration that mobilizes believers to conflate their politics with their faith.

Feucht’s actions are not loving of his neighbors and disobedient to the government since he is holding rallies without a permit, neglecting health guidelines, worshipping against the government and claiming there is a “silencing [of] the faith.”

Like Exodus 23:1, falsely claiming religious suppression in the U.S. while Iranian Christians are actively persecuted is non-biblical; like Romans 13:2-3, actively denying government authority to worship is non-biblical; like Titus 3:10-11, actively ignoring and sabotaging the health of other individuals for selfish gain is non-biblical; like Deuteronomy 10:17-20, stating that Christians are being oppressed when racial inequality and police brutality against Blacks plague the U.S. is non-biblical; and like 1 John 3:10, not loving every child of God through their actions is non-biblical.

How should Christians respond then?

One choice is to disregard Feucht’s presence and condemn his followers for their conduct. This is not a practical option because they are followers of Christ just like everyone else in the global church.

Another choice is that Christians must obey what authorities command, yet this obedience should not neglect to glorify God in a special way. Current circumstances are testing the faith of many, but churches are reopening with outdoor events, online sermons and limited capacity seating to still offer that holy experience.

Worshipping God should not be limited to a big congregation of believers raising their hands and glorifying His name in every song; it never should be that finite. Instead, glorify God in every aspect of life because that can never be taken away by any authority.

Photo courtesy of Brad Bichsel