Two concerts in the nation’s capital next week by conservative singer-songwriter and activist Sean Feucht have raised concerns about security after an event in Portland, Ore., last month ended in violence between far-right extremists and counterprotesters.
Feucht will hold two concerts on the National Mall, in Washington, D.C., over the next week — one on Saturday to mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and another on Sunday, Sept. 12. Before his rally on the evening of Sept. 11, Feucht is hosting a daylong summit at the Trump International Hotel that will feature conservative pastors and political consultants.
“God is at work, and his timing is perfect,” Feucht said in a video posted to Twitter. “When we contacted the National Park Service requesting permits for our big event in D.C., they only had one weekend open. It was the weekend of Sept. 11 and 12. That’s right, the 20-year anniversary of 9/11. I knew in that moment God had something huge planned for this weekend — something we’ve never seen before.”
Feucht's account could not be confirmed. According to an application, which the National Park Service published online in response to public records requests, Sean Feucht Ministries applied for a permit for the rallies on Jan. 27. The dates were originally set for Oct. 23-24, the application said, but were changed to Sept. 9-11 at the request of Feucht’s organization. NPS did not immediately respond to questions about why the date was changed.
Organizers expect a maximum of 30,000 participants; Feucht’s rally in the nation's capital last October anticipated 15,000 participants but “appeared to fall short,” according to Religion News Service.
According to the event application, they will have 50-75 marshals on hand for crowd control and to assist event attendees. However, the security team for his events in Portland early last month reportedly included people associated with the Proud Boys and at least one person who participated in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“These were church guys, man,” he said, “ex-military, ex-police, guys that love the Lord.”
The National Park Service, which operates the National Mall, is still processing Feucht’s application but told Sojourners it has already approved the events.
“When we have the necessary information to ensure the safety of the public and the protection of park resources, then the permit will be issued,” Mike Litters, chief of communications for the National Park Service, said in an email.
The U.S. Park Police will be the lead agency for protecting the park and visitors during the event, Litters said. He declined to discuss details of the safety plan, citing “the integrity of our operations.”
“We will collaborate with our law enforcement agency partners in the city to ensure the safety of all event participants, park visitors and members of the community,” Litters added.
The Metropolitan Police Department — the local police for the District of Columbia — declined to discuss the details of its planning for the rally but said in an email that it “will continue to monitor and plan accordingly with our local and federal law enforcement partners to ensure the safety and well-being of all residents and visitors to the District of Columbia.”
The U.S. Capitol Police declined to comment, saying “USCP cannot discuss potential security plans,” in an email.
The office of Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Feucht did not respond to a request for comment sent through his website.
Feucht is a volunteer worship leader at Bethel, a charismatic, nondenominational megachurch in the conservative bastion of Redding, Calif. His prominence increased last year, when he led a series of controversial Let Us Worship rallies across the country to protest pandemic-related restrictions on large gatherings like churches.
Feucht has said his rallies aren’t political. But his last event in Washington included Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and openly celebrated the confirmation of conservative Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who is pro-life. Feucht launched an unsuccessful bid for Congress in California’s Third House District last year.
Feucht was also one of about 50 conservative Christian leaders who prayed over former President Donald Trump in the Oval Office in December 2019. His social media is filled with criticism of vaccine and mask mandates, criticisms of President Joe Biden, and celebrations of the Supreme Court’s decision not to block a Texas law that practically bans abortion.
As of late August, there weren’t any counter-demonstrations planned for the National Mall on Sept. 11-12, according to a list of permit applications obtained by Sojourners. But Feucht’s rally isn’t the only faith event planned for the Mall that weekend. Others include a Christian concert and rally at the Lincoln Memorial organized by Steve & Ellen Thweatt of the group Not Divided USA; an opioid education event and revival organized by Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church; and a “public demonstration of National Repentance” organized by a group called the Ministry of Repentance and Holiness; and a small demonstration by the religious group Falun Dafa.