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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Jack Jenkins

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

WASHINGTON (RNS) — Christian recording artist Sean Feucht is slated to bring his worship protest tour to the nation’s capital this Sunday (Oct. 25) despite concerns around mass gatherings during a pandemic. 

Feucht’s tour has received widespread criticism from public health officials and other faith leaders who challenge the wisdom of hosting events where neither he nor many attendees wear masks or abide by social distancing restrictions. 

As reported by The Daily Beast, the National Park Service has already approved a permit for the event, which organizers expect up to 15,000 people to attend. The concert is part of Feucht’s “Let Us Worship” tour, which has consisted of sporadic and sometimes impromptu performances — featuring attendees belting out praise songs — at various locations across the country.

The Park Service provided Religion News Service with Feucht’s permit Wednesday afternoon, which grants him use of part of the National Mall from 6:30 am on Saturday, October 24, 2020 to 1:00 am on Monday, October 26. It briefly details a “COVID-19 mitigation plan” provided by Feucht’s team that includes erecting a sign at the table where Bibles are given away, temperature-testing the crew (who will be provided with masks and gloves) and placing sanitation stations near restrooms.

The Park Service noted that a COVID-19 plan “is not a requirement or condition of the permit,” and acknowledged that social distancing restrictions will not be enforced.

“While the National Park Service strongly encourages social distancing, the use of masks and other measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, we will not require nor enforce their use,” read a statement from a spokesperson.

The Park Service did not answer more specific questions regarding criticism of the event.

Washington’s COVID-19 restrictions explicitly prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people. However, while the National Mall is located at the heart of the city, it is administrated by the federal government.

“It violates D.C.’s COVID-19 plan and it’s almost certainly going to lead to a superspreader event— and cause many new cases, hospitalization, and even death. It violates virtually every principle to mitigate this pandemic. It’s disgraceful,” Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University, told The Daily Beast.

The California musician’s tour is framed as a protest against state and local ordinances restricting various religious activities in order to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus that has killed at least 220,000 people in the United States so far.

However, not all of Feucht’s concerts have occurred in places with such restrictions. His band recently performed in Nashville, Tennessee, without applying for a permit, even though churches in the city are allowed to worship in person.

Feucht has framed his concerts as a dispute between “politicians” and Christians like himself, but pastors are among his fiercest critics. 

“All I see is a concert with no social distancing,” the Rev. Thomas McKenzie, pastor of Church of the Redeemer in Nashville, told Religion News Service. “It seems to be this is more about Sean and less about Jesus.”

The Metro Nashville Health Department later released a statement saying it was “very concerned” about the event in the city, adding that it planned to “pursue appropriate penalties against the organizer.”

Some of Feucht’s performances, such as one planned in Seattle, have been canceled by authorities. But he has held concerts in the street anyway, packing hundreds into small spaces in defiance of local regulations and recommendations put forth by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Article originally published by Religion News Service. Used with permission.

Photo courtesy: ©RNS/Julia Duin

The Wesleyan Covenant Association, the largest group within the United Methodist Church, is growing despite some division in the church.

According to The Christian Post, the Wesleyan Covenant Association is also considered the “traditionalists” of the UMC. The association has a strong interpretation of the Bible, including traditionalist views on marriage and clergy. The group also adheres to evangelical beliefs and values.

WCA President Keith Boyette said more than 3,000 churches have affiliated with the association, and the group is growing. In August 2021, the next General Conference will show that growth, he added.

This year‘s conference was canceled amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

“There’s been no pause at all for us,” Boyette says. “We’re working vigorously toward a new, theologically conservative, global Methodist church.”

Boyette said he is hoping the WCA can be part of that new traditionalist church.

“The association will act as a midwife in launching the resulting denomination,” Boyette said.

Traditionalist within the church have argued that UMC evangelism is sometimes too focused on “social gospel of good works” instead of Jesus as salvation.

“Social justice is important — the transformation in us never ends — but the first step is beginning a relationship with Christ,” says the Rev. Thacker Haynes, senior pastor of the United Methodist churches in rural McLean and Heald, Texas.

He says his churches will most likely align with a new evangelical Wesleyan group or go independent.

Other groups within the UMC have left the UMC denomination or are looking at possibly splitting into their own churches. At a meeting in Dallas for “progressive” churches, the Liberation Methodist Church was proposed. The group would be focused on “intersectionality” and stay “trauma-informed” on issues such as race and sexual diversity.

Northside United Methodist Church in Tennessee voted to leave the denomination, change its name and join the Free Methodist Church, a small group with headquarters in Indianapolis.

“As the UMC has become so divided and is heading toward a split, we simply decided that God is calling us to remove ourselves from the ongoing conflict and focus on Christ’s mission for us to share God’s love with all people and lead people to be followers of Jesus Christ,” Senior Pastor Don Thrasher wrote in a news release. “We are a people with a deep love for Scripture and the long-held biblical traditions of the church.”

Photo courtesy: Public Domain

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.

JOS, Nigeria, October 20, 2020 (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen in north-central Nigeria hacked a young Catholic man to death with machetes on Wednesday (Oct. 14), one of eight Christians killed this month in Plateau state.

The herdsmen ambushed 25-year-old Justine Patrick and two Christian companions at about 6 p.m. as they were returning from farm work to Chaha village, Jos South County, according to area resident Ruth Pam.

“Patrick’s companions, Daniel Gyang and Sele Dung, escaped being killed by the armed herdsmen,” Pam told Morning Star News in a text message. “Patrick was cut with machetes until he died.”

Chaha is near the town of K-Vom, where a herdsmen attack on Sept. 24 killed five Christians.

On Friday (Oct. 16) in Daffo town, Bokkos County, Fulani herdsmen ambushed Mukan Solomon Dauda, a 54-year-old Christian who is a security guard for Living Faith Church, according to area resident Simon Agam. Dauda escaped with injuries, one of five Christians wounded in herdsmen attacks this month.

“He was on his way to his guard duty at the church when he was attacked, and he’s currently receiving treatment at the Jos University Teaching Hospital,” Agam told Morning Star News.

Fulani herdsmen on Oct. 8 killed a Christian in Kuru-Jenta village. Pam said Davou Musa, choir director of his home church, Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) in Tya Vom village, and at the nearby COCIN congregation in Rahwol Chom village, was 30.

“Davou Musa was also a member of the Boys Brigade, a Christian youth organization, which ministers in churches,” Pam said.

The previous day in Vwak village, Riyom County, a Christian woman was wounded by gunshot in a herdsmen attack on her home at 10:30 p.m. as she was sleeping.

“Miss Blessing Davou sustained gunshot wounds and she’s currently receiving medical treatment in a hospital in the city of Jos,” area resident Bitrus Chung told Morning Star News.

Six Others Killed

Suspected herdsmen on Oct. 5 attacked predominantly Christian Wereng village in Riyom County, killing six people, according to area resident Dalyop Solomon Mwantiri. “Heavily armed men believed to be Fulani herdsmen alongside their cohorts at about 10 p.m. invaded the community, killing six people,” Mwantiri said in a press statement.
He identified the slain as “Chungyang Mwadkon Tengong, Pam Bako Pwol, Davou Kwal, Linus Rapheal, Mrs. Vou Pam, Miss Evelyn Peter and a minor.”

Wounded were Kim Francis, 32; Mary Francis, 65; and Lyop David 35, Mwantiri said.


Plateau Gov. Simon Lalong, in a statement issued by his spokesman, called for an end to the bloodshed.

“We will not allow these ugly incidences to return where helpless and innocent people are murdered in cold blood for no reason. These killers must be fished out at whatever cost and brought to justice,” Lalong said. “I urge the people to cooperate with the security agencies by providing useful information that will facilitate the arrest of the attackers.”

Numbering in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, predominantly Muslim Fulani comprise hundreds of clans of many different lineages who do not hold extremist views, but some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a recent report.

Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt are inspired by their desire to forcefully take over Christians’ lands and impose Islam as desertification has made it difficult for them to sustain their herds.

The APPG report noted that tribal loyalties cannot be overlooked.

“In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani, was elected president of Nigeria,” the group reported. “He has done virtually nothing to address the behavior of his fellow tribesmen in the Middle Belt and in the south of the country.”

On Jan. 30 Christian Solidarity International (CSI) issued a genocide warning for Nigeria, calling on the Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council to take action. CSI issued the call in response to “a rising tide of violence directed against Nigerian Christians and others classified as ‘infidels’ by Islamist militants in the country’s north and middle belt regions.’”

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.

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Article originally published by Morning Star News. Used with permission.

Photo courtesy: Pixabay