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Woodward, Shea, and the City Council Resolution
The Council’s Statement of Principle
Last Monday evening, September 25th, the City of Spokane City Council voted to formally denounce Mayor Woodward for her August 20th appearance on stage with Matt Shea and Sean Feucht, two preachers of hate and exclusion. The “Let Us Worship” event and the Mayor’s participation in it was covered nationally as a showcase of Christian nationalism in Spokane—a designation the City Council sought to expel by condemning the Mayor’s appearance with Matt Shea.
RESOLUTION NO. 2023-0081 as written (and copied in its entirety below) is as much a statement of principle—that the citizens of Spokane and its City Council “pledge to accept and serve all citizens of our community, regardless of race, religion, color, and sexual identity; and will never accept ideologies that promote fear, hatred, violence, and bigotry”—as it is a specific denouncement of the Mayor’s action. Had the Council remained silent it could be accused of lending its approval to Shea’s and Feucht’s doctrine.
The statement of principle was ignored in the coverage of the Council’s meeting in the Spokesman the next day—and, sadly, few will have (or take) the time to locate and read the Resolution itself. Deplorably, the Spokesman covered the event as a two-sides political controversy between the Council members on the one side and the Mayor and her followers and defenders on the other.
Predictably, almost as though it were orchestrated from some central messaging authority, Woodward’s defenders played the “persecution of Christians” card—as if Shea’s and Feucht’s twisting of biblical text to support their hateful preaching deserved defense rather than condemnation by all Christians.
Former Washington State Representative Matt Shea, a self-appointed non-denominational pastor of “On Fire Ministries”, is a credibly accused domestic terrorist. He is a leader in a movement that seeks to establish dominion over all arms of government and rule everyone under law based on his and his allies’ particular interpretation of Christian teaching. He and his allies justify the dominion they seek under the false claim that the United States was established as an exclusively Christian nation and, therefore, should be governed under biblical law and Jesus’ word. If that sounds appealing, the catch, of course, is that it is biblical law and Jesus’ word as filtered by the like of Matt Shea and his followers—including many allies who have again taken over the leadership of the Spokane County Republican Party. How convenient: Government based on the warped interpretation of scripture of a far right religious cult confident in its Bible-based self-righteousness and divine guidance, a cult teaching intolerance of any lifestyle or belief system other than its own. What could go wrong?
It is long past time to understand that Matt Shea and Sean Feucht represent one particularly dangerous strand among the streams of faith the make up the Christian and broader religious communities in eastern Washington and in the nation. RESOLUTION NO. 2023-0081 refers to a “letter from a collective of Spokane faith leaders”. Read it here. Many did not see the letter because the Spokesman declined to publish it as a guest opinion, leaving the false impression that most people of faith in eastern Washington stand with the like of Matt Shea.
Mayor Woodward defended herself with repeated apologies for her attendance at the Shea/Feucht event, saying she was not aware Shea would be at the event and she should have better researched it ahead of time. If one believes that then we have as a Mayor someone so clueless that she has unqualified to serve. If, on the other hand, one assumes that she was attempting to curry favor with Matt Shea’s followers (and, by extension, the SpokaneGOP—which declined to endorse her in the mayoral primary in August), hoping she could slide “under the radar”, then she is now lying in an attempt to avoid the blowback. Feucht is clearly happy to raise money off the controversy as reported by Aaron Hedges of Range Media, For his part, Shea, on his August 24th Patriot radio broadcast widely played on the American Christian Network, openly contradicted Woodward’s characterization of her attendance as a last minute opportunity to pray for the victims of wildfires. In his broadcast Shea asserts that Woodward had been invited and accepted before wildfires even started.
The reaction of Shea’s followers to the City Council resolution in favor of an inclusive, welcoming Spokane were predictable. From the Spokesman article published the day after Monday’s Council Meeting:
Debate stretched late into the night, with dozens in attendance either calling for Woodward to be denounced or criticizing the council members as attacking the mayor’s freedom of religion and Christianity itself. Several called council members a force of evil, religious bigots and compared them to Satan.
If you have any doubt regarding Shea and what he preaches please read “‘I Want to See It Rule’: Matt Shea Unabashedly Promotes Seven Mountains Dominionism and Christian Nationalism”. Watching the video linked in the article is tedious, but instructive. Shea is open about his intentions. Considering that Shea, Bob McCaslin, and Rob Chase have been tireless promoters of the theocratic State of Liberty for years, Shea’s current preaching should surprise no one.
Keep to the high ground,
Here is the actual text of the City of Spokane’s City County Resolution as presented for a vote at the City Council meeting on September 25th. It is worth you time to read it. It is copied from the city-council-current-agenda-2023-09-25, starting on the pdf’s document page 427—where it is unlikely to be found, much less read by most Spokanites:
RESOLUTION NO. 2023-0081 A Resolution formally denouncing Mayor Nadine Woodward for her actions that associated her with former Washington State Representative and alleged domestic terrorist, Matt Shea, and known anti-LGBTQ extremist Sean Feucht. WHEREAS, Matt Shea represented the 4th legislative district in the Washington House of Representatives from 2009 to 2021; and WHEREAS, an independent investigation commissioned by the Washington State House of Representatives found that “Representative Shea, as a leader in the Patriot Movement, planned, engaged in and promoted a total of three armed conflicts of political violence against the United States Government in three states outside the state of Washington over a three-year period;” and WHEREAS, this independent investigation found that Shea “has also used fear to intimidate those who directly oppose him politically…” and Shea and the Patriot Movement “… rely on radicalization of individuals to the point they are willing to take up arms against the United States to carry out their objectives;” and WHEREAS, Matt Shea has distributed a manifesto titled “Biblical Basis for War” which in part states, “If they do not yield – kill all males;” and WHEREAS, on August 20, 2023, Mayor Nadine Woodward was at a public event accepting the support of Matt Shea; and WHEREAS, video images of the public event show that minutes before calling Mayor Nadine Woodward on stage, Matt Shea listed the problems he believes the country is facing, specifically naming homosexual marriage and transgender issues; and WHEREAS, while thousands of people had to evacuate their homes over the same weekend due to the numerous wildfires in our region, and while our brave first responders worked tirelessly to fight the wildfires, video images of the public event also show Mr. Feucht called for a “fire that would consume Spokane;” and WHEREAS, video images of the public event show that, following her appearance on stage with Shea and Feucht, Mayor Woodward embraced Shea; and WHEREAS, many members of the Spokane community have raised concerns about this public appearance and the implications of Mayor Woodward accepting support from Matt Shea; and WHEREAS, members of the Spokane community have called on elected officials to take responsibility and lead by example and to uphold the values of respect, inclusivity, and compassion; and 2 WHEREAS, the people of Spokane deserve leadership that upholds the highest standards of integrity, empathy, and respect for all, regardless of their background or beliefs; and WHEREAS, on August 24, 2023, the Spokane City Council received a letter from a collective of Spokane faith leaders 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; and WHEREAS, the Spokane City Council does not condone the hateful and dangerous behavior and beliefs espoused by Matt Shea and Sean Feucht, nor does it condone Mayor Woodward’s public appearance with him; and WHEREAS, on February 8, 2016, the Spokane City Council passed resolution 2016-0014, which expressed the Council’s desire to sign the International Charter for Compassionate Communities; and WHEREAS, Mayor David Condon signed this charter on February 22, 2016; and WHEREAS, choosing to uphold the principles of compassion is central to a community’s ability to create a caring and inclusive culture and climate; and WHEREAS, on July 10, 2023, the Spokane City Council passed ordinance C36403, which adopted as the motto of the City the phrase “In Spokane We All Belong;” and WHEREAS, Mayor Woodward’s public appearance at the event has received negative, national attention in Rolling Stone and The Washington Post; and 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; and BE IT ALSO RESOLVED, that the Spokane City Council maintains its collective pledge to accept and serve all citizens of our community, regardless of race, religion, color, and sexual identity; and will never accept ideologies that promote fear, hatred, violence, and bigotry; and BE IT ALSO RESOLVED, consistent with its official motto, it is the aspiration of the City of Spokane to enhance the quality of life and to promote sense of belonging for every single citizen, and that City of Spokane will continue to help make Spokane a better place – where people feel safe, seen, and heard.
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