‘Worship protest’ expected to draw thousands to National Mall

Thousands of people are expected to gather outside on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Sunday evening to participate in a worship event and to protest COVID-19 restrictions.

The event, part of California-based Christian singer Sean Feucht‘s “Let Us Worship” tour, is expected to draw up to 15,000 people, according to a permit issued this week.

The National Park Service granted the permit for the event, which will take place on federal property, though participants will reportedly not be required to wear face masks.

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“For all permit applications, we discuss a COVID-19 mitigation plan with the event organizers, but that plan is not a requirement for or condition of the permit,” a Park Service official told CBS affiliate WUSA.

“While the National Park Service strongly encourages social distancing, the use of face coverings and other measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, we will not require nor enforce their use.”

Some have raised concerns about holding a large gathering – even outside – without widespread mask use.

“It’s concerning,” Glenn Wortmann, chief of infectious diseases at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, told NBC affiliate WRC-TV.

“I mean anytime there a group of a large number of people in one area, there is a potential for spread,” Wortmann said, adding that holding the event outside “makes the risk [of spread] lower.”

Tour organizers emphasize that all crew members will have their temperatures monitored and gloves and face covers will also be provided, WRC reported, though attendees are not required to wear masks.

The event will serve as the last stop of a prayer tour led by Feucht that has drawn large crowds across the country. Online images and videos from previous rallies feature mass baptisms, prayer and singing at the events.

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The tour’s website calls on supporters to “rise up” against what it deems unjustified restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, saying states across the country “have shut down church services and even outlawed singing in church.”

“In unprecedented acts of government-authorised injustice, Christians are being told they cannot gather for worship, they cannot sing songs of praise, and they cannot observe church ordinances,” Feucht wrote in an op-ed for The Federalist last month, describing the events as “worship protests.”

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The District is currently in Phase 2 of its reopening plan, which encourages teleworking for those who can and limits mass gatherings to 50 people, though churches can apply for waivers for larger groups. However, since Sunday’s event will take place on federal land, D.C. won’t have a say in the event.

The Hill has reached out to Let Us Worship for further comment.


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