Controversial Christian 'Superspreader' Preacher Being Investigated by Nashville Authorities After Mass Gathering

Authorities in Nashville are investigating a mass gathering involving thousands of people hosted by controversial Christian preacher and musician Sean Feucht.

The event took place on Sunday night on the steps of Nashville's courthouse—the scene of the latest in a series of mass gatherings hosted by the religious activist across the U.S. since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Images and videos from the event, which involved a mixture of religious worship and Christian music, show a large crowd of people outside the building. Most attendees are not wearing masks and many appear not to have been adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Feucht said on Twitter that a police officer had estimated the crowd to number between 9,000 and 10,000 people, although this has not been confirmed by city officials.

The Nashville Metro Public Health Department (MPHD) said Feucht did not seek the relevant permission to host the event before the gathering went ahead, with the agency saying that an investigation was now underway.

"The Metro Public Health Department is working with other Metro Departments to investigate the event that took place Sunday in front of the Metro Courthouse," MPHD said in a statement. "The event organizer did not submit any application to the Health Department or permit application to any Metro department."

"We have worked very hard to slow the spread of COVID by taking a measured approach to protect the community. The Health Department is very concerned by the actions that took place at the event and we are investigating and will pursue appropriate penalties against the organizer."

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Davidson County—in which Nashville is located—has recorded more than 28,200 confirmed coronavirus cases and over 320 COVID-19 deaths, figures from the health department show.

The city is currently in Phase 3 of its reopening plan. Under these restrictions, gatherings of more than 25 people are not allowed without approval from MPHD. Furthermore, these events are limited to a maximum of 500 people and attendees must wear masks.

Following the event, Feucht wrote on Twitter following saying: "We had THREE venue changes and so much resistance BUT THE CHURCH WILL NOT BE SILENCED!"

"Music City showed up to enthrone KING JESUS last night on the steps of the courthouse downtown! Incredible to witness how God moved last night! These are incredible days!"

Prior to the event, Feucht posted a video on Twitter standing outside the courthouse in which he said: "It's officially a protest, so it's legal."

The hosting of the event has drawn heavy criticism from locals, including from members of the Christian community.

"When any protest includes people in close proximity, not social distancing in a time of global pandemic, that's irresponsible," Father Thomas McKenzie, of Church of the Redeemer in Nashville, told The Tennessean.

"For this guy to come into town and start what is potentially a superspreader event and do it in the name of Jesus and say he's protesting so we can worship is foolishness. If he could do something like this responsibly? Totally fine. I don't blame the people who went. I understand that. But it's the irresponsibility that I find appalling."

Nashville-based author Zack Hunt told The Daily Beast that Feucht was being "pathologically dishonest" over his claims that the church was being silenced.

"Churches are not closed. They never have been. Many of us have had to go virtual for a time because loving our neighbor is our primary calling as Christians and right now loving our neighbor means not exposing them to a deadly virus, but we still had church, even if it was online. We were never singled out for our faith," he said.

"I would be shocked if he was held accountable in any meaningful way He's already on his way to his next sanctified superspreader event."

Feucht's latest event was part of his "Let Us Worship" tour, which has provoked outrage from city leaders in states including Maine, Colorado and Florida.

Newsweek has approached Sean Feucht for comment.

Metro Courthouse in Nashville Tennessee
File photo: The Metro Courthouse in Nashville, Tennessee was lit blue on April 09, 2020, in order to show support for health care workers and first responders on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Sunday, Christian preacher and musician Sean Feucht hosted a mass gathering outside the courthouse. Jason Kempin/Getty
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