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Aug 7, 23

We Go Where They Go: Resistance to Christian Nationalism in Boise

On Sunday, July 30th, 2023, Sean Feucht’s ‘Kingdom to the Capitol’ tour was met with heavy, organized resistance in Boise. As unaffiliated antifascist community members, we chose to stand in solidarity with the wider community against Feucht. We see this recent effort as an overwhelming success that follows in the footprints of groups like AntiRacist Action (ARA). What follows is our reflections and a report back on community strength and resilience, that some thoughts on future actions.

It should be stated up front, that while we were privy to some information about the event beforehand through the community, we weren’t involved in the planning and cannot take any credit for anything besides standing in solidarity with our neighbors. This report back is a collaborative effort but our limited viewpoints and understanding must be acknowledged. Some of these interpretations may be disputed by others in the community, especially with points of disagreement and criticism present. It is not our intent to leave these things out or create conflict, we may just disagree.

Who is Sean Feucht?

Sean Feucht is a self-described Christian Nationalist who advocates for Christian Dominionism, described by Keri Ladner at The Christian Century as, “the belief that Christians should take moral, spiritual, and ecclesiastical control over society, and the process in which, “Dominionists .. seek to take over the world.”

Dominionists believe that Christians are tasked with a religious and spiritual duty to take over the State and reshape it into an explicit Christian nation, making it an aggressive form of nationalism. This push for a religious and political “rebirth,” places Feucht’s political project of an authoritarian theocracy alongside other authoritarian visions on the far-Right.

The explicit cruelty of Sean Feucht’s brand of Christian Nationalism was on display at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when Feucht organized a maskless rally at Skid Row in Los Angeles, which was opposed by many local faith leaders, who “responded by organizing a blockade, literally putting their cars and bodies in the way of the maskless crusade.”

Sean Feucht’s current tour, ‘Kingdom to the Capitol,’ lacks the anti-lockdown urgency of 2020, perhaps leading to Feucht’s diminished attendance.  It’s hard to be sure, though, because Feucht is currently misrepresenting his event attendance by a factor of 4 or 5 when he claims “thousands” attended in Boise. His own media shows close crops, quick cuts, low angles, and empty space, utilizing camera tricks and spread out crowds to imply more support than was present. From the understanding that this man eagerly misrepresents his support, it follows that maybe he never had that much interest or attendance to begin with.

What Did Satan Do in Boise?

First, let’s talk about what this community defense was not: it was not a celebration of any biblical figure, including Satan. It is our understanding that Satanism (as presented by Satanic Idaho) is organized as a rejection of overbearing Christian religion using a figure from Biblical text to confront the hypocrisy of certain aspects of Christianity and Christian values expressed through governments that are not supposed to advocate for any particular religion. In this case, Satanism represents religious pluralism, tolerance for other beliefs, and the freedom to resist Christian Nationalism. This must be mentioned as a direct and intentional refutation of Feucht’s “holy war” framing of events; the “good versus evil” dichotomy was, in fact, in play but not the way he represents it at all. Communities defending themselves is good, outside invasion by an opportunistic stuntman is bad.

Satanic Idaho had already outplayed Sean Feucht before he even set foot in the state and was able to reserve space for a counter-protest next to the Idaho State Capitol grounds at Cecil D. Andrus park for the duration of Sean Feucht’s event. The city failed to enforce the reservation and allowed Fuecht’s followers to use the middle section of Cecil D. Andrus park, a small area with no shade in front of the Capitol steps.

It was within Cecil D. Andrus park, near where the Christian Nationalists gathered, that Satanic Idaho set up extremely loud audio equipment that played counter-programming directly over Feucht and his followers for the duration of the ‘Kingdom to the Capitol’ event. It was in front of those speakers that folks held space and resisted instigation from Christian Nationalists eager to invade the space to create conflict. Sean Feucht’s instigators were ejected from this space in Cecil D. Andrus Park at four different times. Speeches were given by local clergy and community members who support religious plurality. Music played and people danced joyfully. Overall, the atmosphere created by Satanic Idaho, Idaho Abortion Rights, and those who stood with them, was akin to a festival. Joyful energy was infectious, new friends and points of unity were found across the coalitions as they stood together.

It’s at this point that criticism and stylistic differences appear. There was a reliance on city and state police to protect the space from Christian Nationalists; they did so reluctantly while obviously protecting the trespassing agitators from the people that they agitated. The coalition of groups at the event involved some who are not just willing to work with police, but reliant on them. We do not agree with this position as we are fundamentally opposed to police and don’t see a world where they’re on our side in any 3-way fight.

Among those allowed to stoke conflict were the Idaho Liberty Dogs, a local “Blue Lives Matter” pseudo-militia group that only exists to harass activists and librarians in and around Boise. Also present with Sean Feucht was Quincy Franklin, a Proud Boy and hate preacher from Portland. He’s been involved in most of the Patriot Prayer and Proud Boys street violence in the Pacific Northwest since around 2017. Additionally to his penchant for creating, filming, and monetizing street violence, Franklin has been exposed as a domestic abuser and serial cheater. These things are only worth mentioning as a reference to the “good versus evil” dichotomy that Feucht is selling. As far as anyone’s aware: there were no violent abusers against Sean Feucht, they were all on his side.

At one point, Feucht sent his entire congregation of followers to trespass into Cecil D. Andrus Park. They confronted protesters while instigating and filming the resultant conflict. Quincy Franklin and the Idaho Liberty Dogs both baited and filmed it. The fake news website, Idaho Tribune, immediately posted a dishonest representation of the conflict that Feucht and his benefactors amplified immediately. In a bizarre move, Feucht posted video of the trespassing into Cecil D. Andrus park while claiming that it was a march around the Capitol. Again, the park is not the Capitol and is a separate reservation that was held by Satanic Idaho.

Community defenders held the park until all of Fuecht’s followers had moved on. A broad coalition of community members, clergy, activists and defenders came together and held space in solidarity and resistance of Christian Nationalism, dominionism, and fascism.  Together, they were able to mobilize and disrupt an astroturfed, massively funded, and bigoted hate campaign. Sean Feucht has taken to regularly posting dishonest “I’m laughing, actually. The event went great!,” style posts about Boise since the experience, while only showing deceptively edited content, often with replaced audio.

What Comes Next?

There was not enough outreach or education before or during Sean Feucht’s unsuccessful trip to Boise. Many folks didn’t have a real understanding of who Feucht is, his far-Right cohorts, or what they were trying to do. Outreach and education serves to not only invite others to stand with us, it can inform folks about the tactics that may be used against them. The agitators operated in an extremely heightened form of what has been seen from them for years. Giving folks a warning to expect and prepare for this type of baiting should be mandatory going forward, here and elsewhere. It is our hope that this report back can help folks understand the threats and possible avenues of resisting them.

DO NOT COUNT ON THE COPS TO DEFEND YOUR EVENT. They do not protect us and their sympathies were obvious in how they did their job.  Boise police are in the middle of a killing rampage and should never be considered allies in any fight. They are currently operating without oversight and farming out their department’s murder investigations to friendly local departments, who, we think, will never find them guilty of wrongdoing.

An important takeaway here is that your community can, and should, resist Christian Nationalist colonizers in your city. Please feel free to adopt what worked and disregard or actively avoid what didn’t. We send love and gratitude to Boise’s defenders who, once again, show that Boise is a place where community stands up for itself. We stand together joyfully against bigots and outside invaders and agitators. We stand against Christian Nationalism, dominionism, and fascism.  We embrace each other’s differences and together we are stronger and more resilient than any astroturfed bigoted campaign.

¡No pasarán!

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