Christians Protest Woodward’s Possible Censure by Spokane City Council
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News Story by Cassy Benefield | FāVS News
About 50 Christians stood in front of City Hall during Sept. 11’s City Council meeting to protest an upcoming resolution to censure Mayor Nadine Woodward for her participation three weeks ago at a Sean Feucht “Let Us Worship” rally where she prayed with controversial pastor Matt Shea.
Many at the protest carried signs that read “#WeAllBelong—Except” and “IPrayTooCensureMe” to show their support of Woodward and Christianity in general.
Some like Lyle Dach, a local business owner and non-voting deacon of Spokane Valley Assembly Church, also spoke during the City Council meeting’s open forum, even though the resolution to censure Woodward was not part of that evening’s agenda and is planned for Sept. 25.
Dach attended the Aug. 20 worship event and told the Council members he heard pastors pray over communities and for individuals with personal addictions. He also witnessed many “throwing their addictions on the stage and surrendering their life to Jesus.”
“Show me the racism, show me the detriment this [event] brought to our communities. Tell me how this doesn’t heal a community in a positive way. Why are you condemning good? The ones who are politicizing the event are you guys,” Dach said during his two minutes, which KHQ Adam Schwager reported.
While Feucht’s self-identity as a Christian nationalist troubles Woodward’s critics and other local religious leaders, her appearance on stage praying with Shea is also something resolution sponsors Councilman member Zack Zappone and Councilwoman Betsy Wilkerson want the mayor to unconditionally and publicly apologize for, reported Emry Dinman for The Spokesman-Review on Sept.5.
Shea is well-known in the region as former Washington State Legislator connected to and participation in domestic terrorism, advocating the creation of a new state called Liberty and his “Biblical Basis for War” manifesto. He is currently the pastor of On Fire Ministries and host of Patriot Radio, a podcast for “Christian Patriots in the Defense of Liberty.”
Feucht, who may not be as well known locally, is better known nationally for his worship tours, which he began as protests to government mandates limiting Christian gatherings during the pandemic.
In July, religious leaders throughout the Pacific Northwest wrote a letter to government leaders in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, calling out Feucht’s anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry in response to his 50-state “Kingdom to the Capitol” tour.
Zappone, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, while not in attendance, also heard anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric at the Spokane worship event. He believes censuring Woodward makes a more formal statement from the Spokane City Council as a whole that her appearance with Shea was not OK.
“A minute before the mayor got up on the stage Matt Shea compared homosexual marriage to the wildfires,” Zappone said in a KREM 2 story, which aired on Sept. 11. “And that is not appropriate for the mayor to get up there and pray and embrace someone that is making those comparisons in our community.”
That same KREM 2 report also included this statement Woodward made in response to her possible censure and her role at the Aug. 20 “Let Us Worship” event.
“I do not support their views and did not seek their support. I should have done more to learn the exact details of the event and attendees,” Woodward’s statement read. “I apologize that my appearance with them, although unintentional, has hurt members of our community and caused a distraction when we need to focus on the health and safety of Spokane.”
Early this summer, Woodward signed a City of Spokane proclamation on June 1 identifying June as Pride Month. She also took part in the 31st annual Spokane Pride parade on June 10.
A censure would not affect her duties as mayor, but it is more of a statement of displeasure by the majority of the City Council if it passes. It will also show where each council member stands on her attending the event.
Cassy (pronounced like Cassie but spelled with a ‘y’) Benefield is a wife and mother, a writer and photographer and a huge fan of non-fiction. She has traveled all her life, first as an Army brat. She is a returned Peace Corps volunteer (2004-2006) to Romania where she mainly taught Conversational English. She received her bachelor’s in journalism from Cal Poly Technical University in San Luis Obispo, California. She finds much comfort in her Savior, Jesus Christ, and considers herself a religion nerd who is prone to buy more books, on nearly any topic, than she is ever able to read. She is the associate editor of FāVS.News.