Standing for the right to worship

In 1789, James Madison, who later became the fourth president of the United States, introduced 12 amendments to the First Congress, 10 of which would become the “Bill of Rights.” These amendments, defined in the Magna Carta, contain rights considered fundamental to America’s peace, liberties, and prosperity.

The First Amendment provides that Congress cannot make laws respecting any religious establishments or prohibiting its free exercise. Likewise, it protects freedom of speech, the press, the “right of the people peaceably to assemble,” and the right to make a complaint to or seek the assistance of the government without fear of punishment or reprisals.

In July 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, California Gov. Gavin Newsom made worldwide headlines when he banned singing and chanting in houses of worship. The ban launched a controversial battle over the fundamental constitutional rights of worshipers of all faiths. The battle ended when, on Feb. 5, 2021, the Supreme Court issued an injunction to stop Newsom’s extreme COVID-19 ban on indoor worship in churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship.

The court ruled in two cases: South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom and Harvest Rock Church v. Newsom. Both churches sued Newsom for targeting places of worship while allowing retail stores to open, along with hair and nail salons, among other non-essential establishments.

A new documentary, “Superspreader – the Rise of #LetUsWorship,” is released in theaters on Sept. 29 and features worship leader Sean Feucht’s journey that propelled a nationwide revival movement during the pandemic.

The movement originated at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge when, in July 2020, Feucht invited friends through text and social media to meet by the landmark for an outdoor worship service after the prohibition was issued.

Feucht’s extensive travels as a missionary to several countries have given him first-hand experiences with religious oppression. Newsom’s attempt to prohibit expressions of worship reminded him of these experiences and what he has consistently heard from friends who fled from dictatorship and communist governments. “My friends say that the church is the first thing they vow to silence,” he said during our interview.

Indeed, it is a known fact that one of the main agendas in dictatorships, communist and socialistic governments is to replace God in the lives of the people, thus rendering government the only “entity” where one can find help and guidance.

The documentary is as eye-opening as it is controversial. Feucht’s opposition came from every angle: from radical social groups to leaders in the faith community, from close friends and family to government officials.

The leader never imagined that what began with his firm spiritual conviction and desire to stand by his constitutional right to worship would start a widespread movement, leading him to 150 cities, where thousands of worshippers gathered for revival.

Whether or not you agree with the timing of Feucht’s movement, there is no question, as one watches the documentary, that a fire ignited in the hearts of those who came to worship in each city.

As for me, I side with Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch’s opinion: “(…) if Hollywood may host a studio audience or film a singing competition while not a single soul may enter California’s churches, synagogues, and mosques, something has gone seriously awry.”

Indeed, when it comes to our civil liberties in America, it does not matter what religion one affiliates with — we must protect our right to worship at all costs. For if we ever silence the church, we forfeit one of freedom’s most fundamental rights — one which was carefully, deliberately, and, I firmly believe, providentially crafted in our Constitution.

Let us stand. Let us worship.

Find out more about the documentary on www.superspreaderfilm.com. Listen to the interview with Sean Feucht on the podcast God-Sized Stories with Patricia Holbrook, available on all platforms and also on YouTube.

Patricia Holbrook is a columnist, author, blogger, podcaster and international speaker. Visit her website www.soaringwithHim.com. Subscribe to her podcast and YouTube channel for all interviews. For speaking engagements and comments, email pholbrook@soaringwithhim.com.