As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to hit the United States, one pastor in California is proudly claiming that police estimated 12,000 people attended his Let Us Worship prayer protest on the California State Capitol grounds this past Sunday, as reported by local outlet CBS Sacramento. This isn’t the only prayer service Pastor Sean Feucht (associated with Bethel Church in Redding, California) has held amid the pandemic, mind you; Feucht actually led another one in Seattle, Washington on Monday, where hundreds of people sang and prayed in the street after a park ended up being closed. As The Sacramento Bee reports, what happened in Sacramento wasn’t just a prayer service; it was essentially a Christian rock concert.
According to the Bee, Feucht at one point asked the Sacramento crowd: “What if just for a moment we refused to buy in to the pessimistic, skeptical media? What if for a minute, we just decided to look in this book, and prophecize the promises of God?”
According to videos from Sunday evening, people appear to be packed in pretty closely, and many people are not wearing masks. From what we understand about the way the coronavirus spreads, that’s obviously far from good.
How did this event happen? According to the Bee, the California Highway Patrol (which is the agency in charge of the Capitol grounds) is allowing protests on Capitol grounds, but people are supposed to social distance and are recommended to wear masks. There is not a set limit on the number of people.
Dr. Dean Blumberg, an infectious disease specialist, told CBS it seems like a “high risk gathering” and recommended that people self-quarantine after attending. “There's still about 100 deaths per day in California, so we need to take this seriously or that number will increase," he added to the outlet.
Here is a tweet from Feucht that gained some social media attention.
As well as a live stream on YouTube.
Unfortunately, some religious leaders across the nation have sidestepped or outright ignored coronavirus regulations. As Daily Kos has covered, one pastor in Baton Rouge, Louisiana repeatedly held services for hundreds amid the pandemic, violating the state’s orders, and was even arrested over it. The pastor of a megachurch in Florida has been arrested for holding a packed church service as well, which included charges of violating public health rules and unlawful assembly. We know that clusters of cases have been linked to churches, including in West Virginia and Arkansas, as well.