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Christians protest plans to censure Spokane mayor

| Screengrab: X/@josephdpeterson

Several Christian residents in Spokane, Washington, protested plans by the city council Monday to censure or formally rebuke Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward for attending a worship event hosted by conservative activist missionary Sean Feucht and receiving prayer from former state legislator-turned-pastor, Matt Shea last month.

Shea is the senior pastor of On Fire Ministries & Kingdom Christian Academy. He was kicked out of the state Republican caucus after an independent investigation found him guilty of domestic terrorism because of his involvement with the armed takeover at Oregon’s Malheur Wildlife Refuge in 2016, The Washington Post reported. Feucht, who is well-known for his “Let Us Worship” movement launched to combat ongoing worship restrictions during the COVID-19 lockdowns, is an avowed Christian nationalist who believes Christians should be ruling the nation and writing laws.

On Aug. 20, Woodward attended the ‘Let Us Worship’ event in Spokane and received prayer from Shea about a minute after he declared that same-sex marriage and transgender issues “have one answer, and His name is Jesus Christ,” according to Range Media.

Lyle Dach, a businessman and a non-voting deacon of Spokane Valley Assembly Church, who opposes the plan to censure Woodward, said before the city council on Monday that he saw no hate at the prayer event, as was claimed by critics and Woodward’s political rival in the mayoral campaign, Lisa Brown. 

“I’m going to ask you where the hate is because being at the concert, this is what I saw. And I want to kind of bring this to the public awareness here. I saw people ready to pray. I heard people crying out. I saw people who wanted answers for the many concerns they have today,” Dach added in a recording of the meeting shared on YouTube.

“I heard a pastor who the media hates call to action every believer to get past their political indifference and pray for our leaders like believers are called to do. I then heard the same pastor corporately pray for the fire victims and a mayor and other leaders on stage,” he told the city council.

| Screenshot: KHQ

Some local religious leaders such as Mark Finney, pastor of Emmaus church in Spokane, were among Woodward’s detractors, according to FaVs News.

Finney stated 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.”

Dach noted, however, that he saw no hate or Christian nationalism at the Feucht event.

“I’d like you to show me this Christian national behavior. I don’t even know the definition of what that entails. Show me the racism. Show me the detriment this brought to our communities. Tell me how this doesn’t heal a community in a positive way. Why are you condemning good? The ones who are politicizing the event are you guys,” he told the council.

Rebecca Murakami, who is a member of Shea’s church, told Range Media just before the meeting that she believes the planned censure of Woodward could be an effort to silence Christians.

“If the city council wants to stop her from doing that, do they want to silence all Christians?” she asked. “What is the plan behind that? One thing leads to the next.”

Woodward, who is running for re-election for mayor of Spokane in November, has repeatedly stated that she did not know Shea personally prior to the event. Though Shea insists that she knew he would be attending, Woodward maintains that she agreed to attend the event to pray for the victims of a wildfire that was still raging at the time.

“I’ve never met Matt Shea before that time. I’ve covered the controversies regarding Matt Shea. I obviously knew who he was, but I had no idea why I was being introduced to him,” Woodward, a former journalist, told KHQ in an interview on Friday.

“I was never told that he was part of the event. I was never told that he was going to pray over me, that he would be on stage with me. I just thought he was there, along with 4,000 other members of the local faith community, along with dozens of other pastors from all different churches, all different denominations. And that, for some reason, he found out that I was going to be there, wanted to introduce himself and then walked away.”

She explained that she also did not know Sean Feucht and that her primary reason for going to the “Let Us Worship” event was to support the community in prayer.

“I wasn’t going to walk away from my purpose of being there, to pray for families who are hurting in our community,” she said.

“I didn’t know who that (Sean Feucht) was. I mean, I don’t follow [the] white nationalist scene. … I didn’t even know what a Christian nationalist was. I’ve never even heard that term before. So I didn’t know who Sean Feucht was. I didn’t know that Matt Shea was connected to him,” Woodward added. “I get invited to pray at a lot of different prayer services. I meet with a lot of people. As the mayor of Spokane, I represent everybody. I represent people who voted for me, I represent people who didn’t vote for me. I represent people who agree with me and people who don’t agree with me.”

Shea refuted Woodward’s claims in an Aug. 21 post on X: “@IdahoTribune This is an annual event planned months ago to worship Jesus. It wasn’t for “fire victims.” She was invited and she accepted BEFORE the fires started on Friday. However, we of course wanted to pray last night for all those who have lost everything and be there for them and also pray for our leaders. Praying for leaders, especially during a crisis, isn’t political it is Biblical. She is the one that politicized what everyone knows was a worship event. We are praying for Nadine.”

Contact: leo[email protected] Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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