Faith Leaders Spark City Council Vote to Denounce Woodward for Anti-LGBTQ Event Appearance
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News Story by Cassy Benefield | FāVS News
Updated 9.25.2023: This story has been updated to reflect that the City Council will vote to formally denounce Woodward for her event appearance, not censure her as was originally planned.
Faith Leaders and Leaders of Conscience helped inspire a Spokane City Council resolution to formally denounce Mayor Nadine Woodward for her Aug. 20 “Let Us Worship” appearance alongside controversial pastor Matt Shea and self-proclaimed Christian nationalist Sean Feucht.
Council members Zack Zappone and Betsy Wilkerson sponsored the resolution, which will be voted on during Monday night’s meeting at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers on the lower level of City Hall.
In the resolution’s text, they refer to an Aug. 24 letter sent to them by FLLC “in which they called on the Spokane City Council to hold fast to the separation of church and state, reject attempts to cloak bigotry in religious language, and make clear that civic leaders give no support to the ideology of Christian Nationalism or white supremacy.”
Zappone, a member of the LGBTQ community, said the anti-LGBTQ rhetoric he saw on videos of the event that the FLLC referred to in their letter bothered him.
“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.”
One Faith Leaders’ Comment
Mark Finney, lead pastor of Emmaus and executive director of Thrive International, and one of the FLLC letter’s signers, reacted to seeing Woodward onstage at the event on his Facebook page on Aug. 21.
“This is not ok. I’m not commenting about who anyone should vote for. I’m not saying the mayor is a bad person (I’ve had a number of great personal interactions with her just in this last year),” Finney said. “I’m saying that when community leaders publicly fraternize with those who espouse hatred, racism, and violence, it validates toxic ideologies and makes them seem ‘normal’ to the watching world.”
He continued, “As a follower of Jesus and a Christian pastor I unequivocally condemn all forms of white nationalism. There is absolutely nothing ‘Christian’ about it.”
Woodward Responds to Faith Leaders
Woodward sent an email to the FLLC in response to their letter to the City Council on Sept. 20. In it she wrote she regretted and had taken full responsibility for not vetting the speakers of the event better.
“I understand that my being at this event was troubling for some and for others an expression of faith, worship, and prayer,” Woodward wrote to the FLLC.
She also mentioned she was there to pray for the victims and first responders of the recent wildfires in the region calling the discussions about her attendance at the Let Us Worship event an unfortunate distraction.
“Many people were there to worship together and pray for those displaced by the wildfires, the first responders who answered the call and the many volunteers who showed up to support complete strangers,” she wrote.
When the resolution was in the early stages, it was going to be a censure, but the sponsors softened the language, reported RANGE on Sept. 25. The vote will give all council members the opportunity to go on record with their support or rejection of the following words included in the resolution:
“Now, therefore, be it resolved the Spokane City Council formally denounces Mayor Nadine Woodward for her actions that associated her with an alleged domestic terrorist, former Representative Matt Shea, who has participated in the planning of taking arms up against the United States of America, and denounces her preplanned attendance that associates her with known anti-LGBTQ extremist, Sean Feucht, and hateful rhetoric.”
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.