(The Center Square) – A worship protest led by California Christian worship leader Sean Feucht that drew thousands to Nashville’s Public Square Park is under investigation by the Nashville Metro Public Health Department, officials said.
Between 9,000 and 10,000 worshippers, most not wearing masks, gathered in downtown Nashville on Sunday evening, waving large colorful flags emblazoned with the words “Jesus” and “freedom.” Feucht and his team erected a large wooden cross on the Public Square and led worship, culminating in several baptisms, according to a Facebook Live video of the event.
“The enemy went too far. He messed up releasing this demonic virus, closing churches, releasing all this unrest and this tension across America,” Feucht said, welcoming worshippers to the event. “We’re making a statement over America, we’re making a statement over Tennessee. We’re saying this is a season of revival.”
Under Public Health Order 12, gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited in Nashville without city approval. With a permit, events can occur with a maximum of 500 people.
“We had THREE venue changes and so much resistance BUT THE CHURCH WILL NOT BE SILENCED!” Feucht shared in a Facebook post about the event.
The Let Us Worship event did not have a permit from any Metro department. In contrast with the Teens4Equality protest in support of Black lives June 4, which drew similar numbers to downtown Nashville, the Let Us Worship event did not notify the Metro Police Department of its intent to gather, and police were not initially present to monitor the event.
“The Health Department is very concerned by the actions that took place at the event, and we are investigating and will pursue appropriate penalties against the organizer,” the department said in a statement.
While Feucht described being escorted out of the event by a police officer in a social media post, the Metro Public Health Department confirmed no citations or arrests have been made in connection with the protest. The health and police departments have launched an investigation.
“At a time when Nashville has been making real progress at controlling the spread of the coronavirus, I am greatly disappointed that the organizer of Sunday’s event and those in attendance did not better prioritize their health and the health of others through social distancing and the wearing of face coverings,” Nashville Police Chief John Drake said in a statement. “Personal responsibility is a necessity regardless of the purpose for a public event.”
Feucht has organized such rallies across the country in recent weeks, drawing crowds in Fort Worth, Tampa, Chicago and, most recently, in Atlanta on Saturday.