It’s 4:25 am.
I am very close to retiring any hope for a regular sleep schedule this year.
The last few months, I’ve been tossing and turning my way well into sunrise at which point I usually give up and put on a pot of coffee.
Earlier this evening, I dutifully took my melatonin gummies and resisted the urge to take advantage of the night’s quiet to do some writing.
Until I ended up on Twitter and saw this—
So …Bethel Music is at the scene of George Floyds murder. They are about 50 from his memorial playing music over all the local DJs doing alter calls. GTFO pic.twitter.com/G3wfX9RuoL— Em (@emmalouiseri) June 14, 2020
If you have no idea what you just watched, you’re probably better off.
The blond guy swaying his guitar like he’s trying to engage a distracted audience at an open mic in Nashville is Sean Feucht. He’s hosting a worship set at the site of George Floyd’s memorial in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A google search lists him as a politician but his Facebook page presents the following bio: “Sean Feucht is a husband, father, missionary, musician, artist, speaker, author, activist, and the founder of multiple worldwide movements.” According to his website, one of those is Hold the Line, “a political activist movement seeking to rally the global church to engage in their civic duty – to vote and stand up for causes of righteousness and justice in the governmental arena.”
We’ll get to that.
I first crossed paths with Sean’s er, sphere of influence let’s say, because of Bethel. Bethel is the more commonly used name for of Bet in Redding, California. Bethel Church’s mission is revival, as well as the personal, regional, and global expansion of God’s Kingdom through His manifest presence.
Molly Hensley-Clancy an account of what she experienced at Bethel Church that will captivate your curiosity whether you’re religious or not.
She writes: Globally, Bethel Church is mostly known for its Christian worship music — songs that tend toward the bland and inoffensive, but are wildly popular. Justin Bieber once told Cosmopolitan that a Bethel track called “No Longer Slaves” (now at 34 million YouTube views) was in his iPod’s top three most-played, along with Lil Wayne and Drake.
Her use of Bieber’s name is a shorthand to communicate how exceptionally popular Bethel is. They’re right up there in the collective identity of the American Christian with Hillsong and Chick-fil-a. You’d be hard-pressed to find a contemporary evangelical church in the U.S. that doesn’t sing their lyrics on Sunday morning.
As a result, I found myself playing their songs on rotation for years.
I moved on from their music around the same time I stopped attending church but I remained grateful for the many tunes that fostered intimacy in private moments of prayer.
My relationship with worship music has became a lot more fraught ever since I saw this photo.
Bethel publishes a catalog of popular Christian artists including Jenn Johnson, Amanda Cook, Cory Asbury and several others. Many of whom are featured here during a “faith briefing” with Trump at the White House on December 6th, 2019. Sean Feucht, the blond touching him, joined Bethel’s collective in 2016.
I would going to say this picture appears innocuous at first glance, but that’s not true. Perhaps it would be if it had not been shared on the heels of Trump’s Muslim ban or the peak of his family separation policies at the border, but it was.
Then there were the series of videos where a few guests awkwardly yet enthusiastically shared their excitement about “so many good things happening out of this [White] house.”
Andy Rowell, an Assistant Professor of Ministry Leadership at Bethel Seminary in Minnesota, communicates the message these leaders (who are usually apolitical on their social platforms) are participating in here:
…the strategy is to sell these worship leaders (who have big Instagram followings) with a one-sided “Look at what Trump is doing for evangelicals!” so that they then turn and communicate to their fans: “President Trump and his administration are people passionate about worship and prayer, just like you! And therefore, you should defend President Trump and try to see the good in what he does. And you should vote for him!
Many in the faith community were disturbed by the optics of aligning the most influential names in a Christian music to a spiritually-bankrupt administration. The campaign to promote propaganda further co-opting faith in exchange for political power was far too obvious.
And it took place just 3 months prior to the election Feucht lost as a Republican candidate for California’s 3rd Congressional District.
His website offers no information on where he stands politically. A glance at his Twitter and Instagram however makes it clear.
CANCEL “CANCEL CULTURE” https://t.co/mJqYd5ndgJ— Sean Feucht (@seanfeucht) June 4, 2020
At a time when most of the world is reflecting on justice work and muting themselves on social in order to amplify the voices charging forth the largest Civil Rights movement in the last several decades, Feucht has focused his energy on “exposing” the Black Lives Matter movement instead.
Justice is “conformity to truth, fact or reason.” You cannot have justice without truth. The #BlackLivesMatter movement isn’t pursuing truth but a deeply political and unbiblical agenda. Powerful convo with @SeanFeucht. #OpenOurEyes #MakeUsOneLord https://t.co/lXxRUKSBom— Radiance Foundation (@lifehaspurpose) June 7, 2020
Here’s another tweet where he shared a doctored screen-grab as if it were real. Although people were quick to point out it was manipulated with a scene from the film World War Z and not actually footage from a protest, he left the picture up which makes the irony of the words attached lead you to wonder whether he’s participating in some kind of performance art.
“Believe our narrative. There’s nothing but truth to see here.”— Sean Feucht (@seanfeucht) June 1, 2020
– Mainstream Media pic.twitter.com/5Z99F0tOes
After all, why would he 1. irresponsibly tweet this without realizing it clearly has “World War Z —Official Trailer” at the bottom of the image and 2. not delete it when he’s politely been asked to multiple times?
But as I fell further into his content, it became obvious he invites controversy and goes so far as to court it by posting things like this—
My general approach to Bethel, and I guess by extension Sean Feucht, has been to ignore them up to this point. After all, we’ve seen this play out over and over.
Public figure stirs dissension then victimizes themselves at the alter of the conflict they’ve exploited.
But when I saw the video of Sean Feucht playing Sunday morning hits on rotation at the site of George Floyd’s murder, I couldn’t ignore the harm this man is doing to the Minneopolis community and the memory of George Floyd in the name of Christ.
Feucht is treating a pivotal (and may I add fragile) moment in our country’s history like a photo opp, much like his hero in chief.
DJs and MCs local to Minneapolis who were offering prayer and community at the site of Floyd’s memorial were forced to end their sets because Feucht’s speakers were louder.
Why is it that whenever the evangelical Church has a chance to show up for the Black community, we play a sanitized church-appropriate chorus over their cries for justice?
This week, Feucht has used his platform to promote empty, performative amends between strangers with different skin colors while elevating his image as an activist without actually having to put in the real work. Instead, he’s lazily using Christianity to protect a system built by white supremacy while inherently benefitting from it. He’s using his platform to promote himself as an arbiter of reconciliation when we are experiencing anything but. He’s left the gaslight on.
One might wonder where Feucht stands on, you know, the work that disbands our country’s school to prison pipeline or strengthening inner-city commmunities with more resources or holding cops accountable when they use undue force to murder a man over a counterfeit bill. But he’d much sooner lie about why he was disinvited by school administration from hosting an event at North Central University.
What Feucht fails to get is Minneapolis is not a third-world country he can exercise his toxic savior complex on.
To add insult to injury, he’s censored everyone that has respectfully asked him to read the room by deleting their comments from Instagram or blocking them on Twitter.
A lot of the captions for his Instagram posts from Minneapolis have the phrase “CHANGE THE NARRATIVE”. And he’s doing that, in plain sight.
But what else might one expect from the guy that published his campaign logo over an image of Martin Luther King Jr. and then used it to condemn *checks notes* abortions?
View this post on Instagram
HE FOUGHT FOR THE DREAM AND FOR THE FREEDOM OF SO MANY!! . . This quote by his niece always wrecks me: . . “How can the ‘dream’ survive if we murder children? . . Every aborted baby is like a slave of the womb of his or her mother. The mother decides his or her fate.” . . – Alveda King (niece of MLK)
I’m honestly annoyed I even have to spend energy checking this guy. This blog was not created to check middle-aged white Christian men demonstrating bad behavior.
Yet I am so disturbed by this disproportionate and self-indulgent response to the murder of George Floyd that here we are.
In February, Feucht told The Reporter, “I don’t look like a politician, and I’m not running as a politician… I’m running as an outsider…I don’t owe anybody anything.”
But as a professing Christian leader, he owes the Church accountability.
Feucht’s alignment to Trump has always been about an exchange of power: access to Sean Feucht’s evangelical following in return for being the man at Trump’s arm. As much as he might reject the notions that he IS a politician, reality doesn’t exist in a siloed vacuum we can protect with a block button.
In reference to his failed Congressional campaign, Feucht told the Washington Examiner he imagines future activists thinking, “If this long-haired, 36-year-old millennial guy can do it, then I can do it.”
The danger is that others like Feucht will.
*A previous version of this article conflated Bethel School of Ministry with Bethel Church. Please be advised they are two distinct entities. Thank you.