Matt Shea’s and Sean Feucht’s “Christian” nationalism called out
Decades of death notices of the Christian values with which I was brought up were premature. Those values are shared by people of many faiths, people who, in the face of mounting threats, are organizing and pushing back against bigotry—and not getting the level of press coverage they deserve.
Sadly, over decades of reading “the news”—news put forward by outlets pre-disposed to cover controversy—it was easy for me to believe that the welcoming Protestant Christianity in which I was brought up in the 1960s was subsumed by Evangelical televangelists and talk show gadflies like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Tim LaHaye (preacher and author of the End Times “Left Behind” series), and, locally, loudmouth, controversial politico-religionists like Ken Peters (of Covenant Church and “The Church at Planned Parenthood”) and disgraced former Washington State Representative Matt Shea (On Fire Ministries). Now, thanks to a growing local movement, I no longer believe that.
Goodwill and solidarity against bigotry, it turns out, are alive and well—and people of goodwill are organizing to oppose the toxic bigotry that is once again making national news and smearing the national reputation of the Inland Northwest. Lest we forget, Richard Butler and his Aryan Nationsnational gatherings in Hayden Lake were tamped down by dedicated people of goodwill and solidarity in the 1990s—but the people who accepted white supremacist doctrine did not simply disappear. Butler and many of his acolytes are now dead, but the bigotry on which Butler’s version of the Church of Jesus Christ–Christian still lies in the soil of region and provides fertile ground for the like of some of what we see today.
Below is pasted (with permission and encouragement) an open letter signed by a growing multitude of Faith Leaders and Leaders of Conscience of Eastern Washington and North Idaho in opposition to the recent Matt Shea/Sean Feucht gathering in downtown Spokane that City of Spokane Mayor Woodward and a number of local right wing Republican political candidates attended and to which they lent their legitimacy.
I encourage you to copy the letter and its signatures and share it widely with your friends and neighbors on social media. Not only is that sharing valuable on its own but it might gain enough notoriety for local media like The Spokesman to publish it as well.
Keep to the high ground,
Reject all Attempts to Cloak Bigotry in Religious Language
As Faith Leaders and Leaders of Conscience of Eastern Washington and North Idaho, we ask the people of the State of Washington to join with us in opposing Christian Nationalism and white supremacy in Spokane and, indeed, the entire State of Washington. We reject all attempts to cloak bigotry in religious language, and we ask you to do the same.
We hold fast to the separation of church and state, as articulated in our nation’s constitution. We seek a city and state that are welcoming to all, and civic leadership that clearly observes the vital importance of the separation of church and state.
Christian Nationalism and white supremacy have no place in our country.
We are disturbed at the recent featured participation of Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward at the “Let Us Worship” rally, sponsored and promoted by an organization known for promoting the fusion of conservative Christian Nationalism and the US government.
The “Let Us Worship” rally was organized well in advance. Sean Feucht, the promoter, is known for his anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments, his embrace of the exclusionary label of “Christian nationalist,” and declaration that people with his view of Christian theology should make all laws in the United States.
Also, standing with Mayor Woodward was Matt Shea, who is well known for his sharing Sean Feucht’s values and for his violent ideology as put forth in his “Biblical Basis for War.”
We believe all persons have not only a God-given human right but a constitutionally protected freedom to be their full selves and to pray, worship, believe and practice faith as, and if, they choose.
While people holding public office also have that right in their personal lives, they must be careful about the actions they take as a democratically elected public figure where they represent our whole community. The Mayor’s participation in her official capacity as Mayor of Spokane at the “Let Us Worship” event is deeply concerning. Public trust has been damaged.
We ask that all people condemn the public involvement of civic leadership with an event that promotes Christian Nationalism and affirm that Washington State is a place where all people, faiths, and religions are valued and welcomed. In a time when we need to bring people together, we hope the good people of the state of Washington will not be silent.
Christian Nationalism and white supremacy have no place in the State of Washington. We seek a state-wide community that is welcoming to all, and civic leadership that clearly observes the vital importance of the separation of church and state. Join us.
The Reverend Gen Heywood, Convener of Faith Leaders and Leaders of Conscience of Eastern Washington and North Idaho
The Reverend Liv Larson Andrews, Northwest Intermountain Synod of the ELCA.
Petra Hoy, Community Member. NAACP Education Committee Member
William Aal, Tools for Change
Samantha Mumford, MPA, PMP, Security Advisor Veradale UCC
Jan Young, Life Deacon, Veradale United Church of Christ
Don Young, Life Deacon Chair, Veradale United Church of Christ
Elise DeGooyer, FAN (Faith Action Network) Executive Director
Brianna Dilts, Eastern Washington Organizer, Faith Action Network
Victoria Harris MD, MPH Member, Temple Beth Shalom
Pam Silverstein MD member Jewish community
The Reverend Debra L. Conklin, St. Paul’s and Liberty Park United Methodist Churches and The Oak Tree
The Reverend Kaye Hult, Shalom Church Spokane, (UCC and Mennonite).
The Reverend Roger Hudson, U.M.C.
Naghmana Sherazi, Muslims for Community Action and Support (MCAS)
Quan Yin (Lynne Williams, MD, Baraka Spiritual Sufi Community in Spokane.
The Very Reverend Heather VanDeventer, Episcopal Church
The Reverend Walter Kendricks, Pastor, Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church
The Reverend Andy CastroLang, United Church of Christ
The Reverend Jim CastroLang, United Church of Christ & Board Member, Faith Action Network
The Reverend Dr. Mark Finney, Pastor, Emmaus Church Spokane
The Reverend Rick Matters, Episcopal Church
The Reverend Alissa Amestoy, Spokane Valley United Methodist Church
Sr. Pat Millen, OSF, Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia.
Rabbi Tamar Malino, Temple Beth Shalom and Congregation Emanu-el
Charity Doyl, Multicultural Organizer, Spokane Valley
Rev AC Churchill, Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power and Light, Executive Director.
Silver Valley Community Resource Center
Children Run Better Unleaded
Tracy Morgan, Co-Chair RG*NEW
Joan Berkowitz, member Jewish community
Jennifer Gale Compau, Community Member, Vflats Artisan Farm : Anti-violence projects
R. Skyler Oberst, international interfaith leader and community advocate
The Reverend Pamela Starbuck, Manito Presbyterian Church
The Reverend Dr. Scott Starbuck, Manito Presbyterian Church
Senator Maralyn Chase, retired
The Right Reverend Gretchen Rehberg, Bishop,The Episcopal Diocese of Spokane
The Reverend Kimmy Meinecke, St. David’s Episcopal Church
Jody Shapiro, Jewish Community Leader
Leilani DeLong retired Rn, nursing supervisor
Patrick McCormick, with 350 Spokane Interfaith Committee
Kurtis Robinson , President, Spokane NAACP
Mary Noble MD, member Temple Beth Shalom
The Reverend Tara Leininger, Metaline Falls Congregational UCC
The Reverend Dane Breslin, The Sunnyslope Church UCC/COB