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Zach Williams Meets the Christian Nationalist Redemption Machine


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Zach Williams Meets the Christian Nationalist Redemption Machine

Far-right celebrity pastor Sean Feucht, Matt Shea and allies built a massive media campaign claiming to have saved the soul of an unhoused Spokane man. The man tells a different story.

News Story by Aaron Hedge | RANGE

“GOD WRITES THE BEST STORIES!!!” right-wing Christian rock star Sean Feucht posted on Twitter, almost immediately after leaving the stage at his Spokane show on August 20. 

Feucht wasn’t talking about Mayor Nadine Woodward’s appearance on the platform with Matt Shea that night, which became such a big story it nearly overshadowed the worst Spokane-area wildfires in three decades, and has dogged her re-election campaign ever since.

He was talking about the baptism of Zach Williams, a man who has spent more than two decades living on the streets of Spokane. 

On a previous trip through this city in June, Feucht’s guitar was stolen from the back of the Honda Pilot SUV he was driving, and now he professed a two-fold miracle: Not only had Williams — who stole the guitar — given it back, he had given something else as well. “THE GUY WHO STOLE MY GUITAR JUST GAVE HIS LIFE TO JESUS!!!!” Feucht wrote in that same post. 

Feucht took a screenshot of his tweet and posted it to Instagram with the caption “I AM SO SHOOK! God is soooooo good!!!!!” The original tweet has been deleted, but the Instagram post has nearly 26,000 likes. Subsequent posts about Williams’ incredible conversion story have garnered tens of thousands of likes as well.

But God didn’t write the story of Zach Williams’ salvation. Feucht, his ministry team and a group of Spokane-based allies did. 

Williams tells a different story of that night, one of peer pressure verging on coercion that led him onto the concert stage and later into a makeshift baptistry. Williams admits he did steal Feucht’s guitar, but he disputes basically everything else, including his conversion. 

Asked recently whether he felt like he was a Christian, Williams said, “Definitely not.”

Before RANGE tracked him down, Williams did not know his image – or the story in which he is a lost soul redeemed at a revival – had been seen by more than a million viewers of conservative media across the country. 

Williams lacks access to such stories, and even if he could see it, his life is too complicated to care about something as trivial as national recognition. He didn’t even want to see the videos of himself at Feucht’s concert. “That would just piss me off,” he said.  

The story of Sean Feucht, Zach Williams and a stolen guitar is a story of marketing masquerading as testimony, where facts are less important than God’s truth. 

The saga has earned Feucht and his mission hundreds of thousands of social media views, stories across Christian media, and a cross-over appearance on America’s flagship conservative cable network — further burnishing his reputation as one of the most charismatic stars in a constellation of Trump-aligned, Christian nationalist religious leaders. Williams, by contrast, told RANGE the supposed redemption story has left him in the same place Feucht’s allies found him the day of the concert.

The morning after he allowed himself to be pulled onstage, photographed, videotaped and eventually submerged in water, Williams says, he woke up back on the street in an area he has spent countless hours in the last few years: near the City Gate Fellowship, a church for unhoused people.

Sean Feucht, meanwhile, woke up and continued his marketing push. Within hours, Christian media began covering the story. Within a week, Feucht was telling the story on Fox & Friends.

‘I do it because I have to in order to survive’

Williams has lived on the streets of Spokane for more than two decades. He stole a guitar from a traveling worship pastor in June, but returned it. The worship pastor said Williams got saved at one of his concerts. Williams said that’s not true. / Photo by Ben Tobin (For RANGE)

Williams is 33 and says he has lived on the streets since he was 10.

He has been preoccupied for months with the struggle of getting the right documentation and earning enough money to get into sustainable housing. He would take an apartment, a house – any place that isn’t the City Gate Fellowship, the church for unhoused people on Spokane’s Madison Street, where he often stays, or a downtown bridge, where he slept one recent night after being kicked out of City Gate. 

Williams has a lot of work to do before he can reach this goal, but he has made at least one concrete step toward it: He got a state identification card, which he keeps chained to his belt loop. With that ID, he said, he can get a job. With that job, he can get a place. Once he has a place, he hopes, his partner of six or seven years, who he calls “my wife” and is also sometimes unhoused, will come back to him. 

“She’s my everything,” Williams told RANGE. 

Williams said his partner prefers panhandling, but he lives under the shadow of a no-show warrant for his arrest, and so he breaks into cars and steals things he can sell or trade, which is what brought him into contact with Feucht. He said his partner disapproves of his crimes, but what else is he to do? If he panhandles, he breaks the city’s anti-panhandling law and risks being detained. He’s desperate to avoid jail.

“I don’t do it because I want to,” Williams said of his burglary. “I do it because I have to in order to survive.”

Dining on pizza across from City Gate recently, Williams described his role in the several square blocks where he spends the most time, telling RANGE that he and a few other guys who have lived long on the streets are the “enforcers” who make sure no one uses drugs or alcohol in front of women or children. If someone is harassed, Williams said, they intervene. 

Until he gets a job, he said, he will continue breaking into cars. Like he did on or around June 21 of this year, just outside of a Davenport hotel.

“I was riding my longboard, going through a regular area that I hit to get my money for food and clothing and my drugs that I do,” Williams said. “And I seen a guitar case in the back of a car, and I looked around and put this little pen thing to the window of the car and pushed it. It broke the window. I grabbed the guitar, put it on my back, and rode off.”

The car had been parked there by Feucht, who tirelessly travels the United States staging concerts that often feel like political rallies and always feel like religious revivals. At these concerts, Feucht says, people renounce drugs, get saved and heal from wounds the dark, secular world has inflicted on them. On the day Williams took the guitar, Feucht was doing an event for the charismatic downtown church On Fire Ministries, which was founded in 2021 by Matt Shea, the far-right state legislator who was accused of domestic terrorism in 2019 and declined to run for re-election.

The next morning, Feucht, who did not respond to a request for comment on this story, lamented the theft on Twitter. He noted the guitar’s unique story and cast its loss as another enemy salvo in the war between good and evil: “Our car was broken into and my guitar stolen from downtown Spokane last night. It was my ‘67 Gallagher that was a gift from Ray Hughes. IRREPLACEABLE!!! Pray for Justice. Pray for our family. Pray against these constant attacks.”

Williams had a change of heart and returned the guitar, but Feucht doesn’t waste resolved calamities; they are so easily transformed into miracles. 

Christians at the Let Us Worship concert speak with Williams, second from left, before they baptize him. Williams said he told them he did not want to be baptized, but they pressured him for “15, 20 minutes,” until he relented. / Photo by Ben Tobin (For RANGE)

The redemption machine

Feucht leads several Christian efforts described on his websites as “movements,” including two national concert tours, one of which the Spokane event was part of, Let Us Worship. That tour began as a protest movement against COVID restrictions that barred some churches from worshiping in groups in person and without masks. The other, Kingdom to the Capitol (K2C), is similar to Let Us Worship but has a more assertive political flavor: At K2C, Christians declare that Jesus Christ, rather than voters, is in control of the government. All of these events are free to everyone, making money on donations and merchandise sales.

Feucht and his team document these concerts lavishly across social media platforms, racking up tens of thousands of views for many posts and videos. This material — anecdotes and flash cuts of people throwing drugs and paraphernalia onto stages and being baptized on the sidelines of the concerts — is forged into advertisements and documentaries and memoirs available for sale on Feucht’s websites. Such stories are the lifeblood of the movement, and they have helped Sean Feucht Ministries, under which both concert tours are organized, balloon its fundraising in recent years. In 2019, the nonprofit reported less than $500,000 in revenue; in 2020, as Let Us Worship ramped up, the nonprofit raked in more than $5.3 million. 

Stories of personal redemption – like the one Feucht would tell about Williams – are the raw crude Feucht refines into emotional, visceral, thrilling videos that fuel his operation.

One man with an unnoticed but important role in Feucht’s ongoing social media memoir is evangelist Dean McCarty, a member of On Fire Ministries. McCarty attended Feucht’s event at On Fire and said when he read the next morning on a church bulletin of the guitar’s theft, he felt that God was calling him to find it. He frequently prays for unhoused people in downtown Spokane and quickly tracked Williams down and convinced him to give the guitar back for a reward of $110. 

That reward was offered by McCarty and Gavan Spies, an Airway Heights man who works for the conservative political group Turning Point USA, and is a lead organizer for K2C, which partners with TPUSA’s faith initiative. McCarty said that of the $110 reward for the guitar, $30 came from him, and the remaining $80 from Spies. McCarty said he was willing to pay for it without reimbursement.

Williams accepted this reward even though he thought he could have received more money by selling the instrument. Why did Williams accept this sum when he could have kept his mouth shut and been richer?

“Because I thought it would be good,” he said. “I thought it would be the right thing.”

Making the miracle

On June 25, Feucht announced the guitar’s return to his more than 106,000 Twitter followers, writing “IT’S SUNDAY MIRACLE: I got my guitar back!! It was turned in THIS MORNING after being stolen from my car 5 days ago! … GOD RESTORES!!!” The post of the theft and the post of the recovery demonstrate a common tactic of Feucht and his team: When something bad happens, it is the fault of our fallen world, which needs to return to the light of God through messengers like Feucht. When something good happens, it is God rewarding his faithful servants for their perseverance in carrying out His edicts. In all cases, God is the redeemer, and Feucht is his Angel Gabriel — the vessel through which God’s will is transmitted.

And while Feucht’s annunciations may contain sacred truths, they often get basic facts wrong. In the replies, Feucht wrote the guitar “was traded in for dope then wound up in a pawn shop and my buddy bought it back for me!!!!”

McCarty told RANGE that Spies communicated the recovery to Feucht over text message. Spies has connections to On Fire Ministries and has told RANGE he and Feucht are good friends.

Spies “texted Sean and said, ‘We found the guitar,’” McCarty said, pronouncing it, correctly, gee-taur. “And then Sean got the whole story screwed up.”

McCarty said Spies showed him the text to Feucht, which read, “This was not found in a pawn shop,” and Feucht misread the message to say the instrument had been in a pawn shop. 

McCarty said Spies corrected Feucht, and Feucht replied: “‘LOL, I got it all screwed up.’ … It all got straightened out because it was all just a goofy mix-up.”

RANGE has spoken to Spies about other matters, but he did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

Whether his errors about the guitar’s journey were accidental or intentional, Feucht never corrected the record he had established, and would later fail to correct a Fox News anchor who repeated the falsehood that the guitar was found in a pawn shop to a national audience.

Multiplying the miracle

Back in June, Matt Shea piggy-backed off Feucht’s celebration of the guitar’s return. On the June 27 broadcast of his show, Patriot Radio, Shea triumphantly said: “Thank you to everybody that has been just praying for us.” Referring to Feucht’s event at On Fire Ministries, he said, “Thank you to everybody who was at the event this last week with Sean Feucht. He did get his guitar back. That was a miracle testimony in and of itself. People’s past was used by God to redeem that guitar. Just a wonderful testimony of God’s grace and His mercy.”

Shea did not mention Williams. He did not explain how Feucht’s guitar had become lost in the first place. And his listeners could not tell, unless they had special access to the story, how the guitar was returned. It was a miracle.

A screenshot of a July 6 Instagram post by Sean Feucht. In the image, Spokane evangelist Dean McCarty shows Williams footage of Feucht performing gospel music. 

And while outlets like Shea’s were amplifying this first miracle, Feucht was quickly planning the next. He had the guitar, but he also wanted Williams’s soul.

McCarty told RANGE that the pastor asked “our church to see if [Williams] will agree to come to my concert that I’m going to do in Spokane,” referencing the Aug. 20 event. 

McCarty and his wife Betty spend some evenings delivering muffins to unhoused people downtown, asking if they want to be prayed over. They often work into the early mornings handing out all the food they have. They’ve been doing this work for years, and it gives him a street savvy you might not expect of a 79-year-old man. But Dean McCarty is stocky, a former wrestler and a recovering meth addict, who’s confident in his fate after more than 50 years of sobriety, which he attributes to his relationship with God. He said he knows how to handle himself, so he made it his mission to again find Williams for Feucht as he evangelized. 

McCarty chanced upon Williams downtown in early July. He later described this encounter in an interview on the local right-wing podcast Church and State, telling the host, On Fire Ministries worship pastor Gabe Blomgren, that he showed Williams a video of Feucht performing his upbeat gospel music.

A story about this meeting, published July 7 in the Christian news site ChurchLeader, reports the encounter from Feucht’s perspective, who was not with the McCartys as they ministered to Williams. The story begins by saying Williams “has repented and asked for forgiveness. Last week, Feucht recovered the guitar, as it was found at a pawn shop five days after being stolen. According to Feucht, it was traded for drugs and then sold to the store.” Feucht came close to again characterizing the story as a miracle but this time stopped just short.

“Pray that Zach surrenders His life to Jesus and story will be complete!!” Feucht said.

After showing Williams the footage of Feucht performing, McCarty invited Williams to the August 20 event, and Williams agreed.

‘Oh, c’mon, man, you gotta get baptized’

Feucht and Williams center-stage at the Podium. / Photo by Ben Tobin (For RANGE)

McCarty told RANGE that on August 20, as the concert began, Williams had not shown up, so McCarty went looking, praying God would deliver him a second time. 

“Within a minute, Zach comes up to me and says hi,” said McCarty, who seemed to see something divine in these chance encounters and Williams’ change of heart about the guitar.

By that time, the concert had already started. McCarty and Williams made it just in time for Feucht’s moment with Williams onstage. A video of the event Feucht shared on his YouTube channel shows Jay Koopman, a California pastor who says he is a recovering addict, bringing Williams onstage. Koopman wore a Gonzaga Bulldogs jersey, Williams a black hoodie and khaki cargo shorts. They met Feucht, whose blond locks spilled over his jean jacket and his guitar, mid-stage.

Koopman smiled and said, “Hey guys, this is our brother. His name is Zach.” Williams, who was not smiling, waved to the crowd. Koopman: “Can we love on Zach? Zach is a good man.” 

In the video, Williams appears to ponder this for a split second then roll his eyes. 

“He reminds me of me,” Koopman said. “Because I was stealing and doing drugs, but I wanted to get my life right. Many of you may not know, but Zach’s the one that actually took Sean’s guitar.”

Feucht walked to Williams, smiling and holding the redeemed guitar slightly to the side to make room to hug Williams. The men embraced, and Williams said two or three inaudible words to Feucht.

Koopman continued, “Hallelujah, you’re forgiven man, we love you. Do we love Zach?” 

The crowd cheered.

Feucht prayed with his hand stretched toward Williams: “Lord, we thank you that you love him, that you died on the cross for him, that you gave everything for him. … We just pray your divine story of redemption would come to be spoken.” 

It would come to be spoken.

A line of text faded in over the video. “Zach gave his life to the Lord tonight.”

Speaking to RANGE, Williams denied having converted, saying, “Definitely not.” He also said being onstage was unpleasant. “It kind of made me feel … like I was being showboated. I didn’t know the dude. I don’t like being touched by people, especially if I don’t know them. It’s just weird.”

Williams described what happened next, which was not depicted in the video: “I walked offstage and there was a group of people that surrounded me, and this big fat dude came up to me and he’s like, ‘Hey, can I touch you?’ And I was like, ‘Why?’ And then he puts his hands on me, and I’m like, ‘Okay, you’re touching me now.’ And then he proceeded to tell me that he’s not doing anything, he’s not doing anything, and he pushes me. And he says, ‘That was God!’”

McCarty described the same scene: “There was a group from On Fire Ministries. They surrounded him and prayed all over him and cast demons away and all kinds of stuff.”

Williams said he did not know anyone who had surrounded him. He said the group told him they wanted to bring him to a treatment center. Williams says he refused, telling them he was not ready to stop using drugs. 

Williams said the group then asked if he would get baptized, the Christian ritual in which sinners’ unclean past is washed away as they are dunked in water and they are born anew. “I’m like, ‘No, I don’t want to get baptized right now.’” 

Williams said they replied, “Oh, c’mon, man, you gotta get baptized.” 

Williams said he again refused, but that they continued to pressure him.

“And they kept on doing it for like 15, 20 minutes, begging me to get baptized, and I’m like, ‘Fuck, okay, let’s go do it.’”

zach williams
Zach Williams preparing to be baptized by On Fire Ministries pastor Matt Shea. / Photo by Ben Tobin (For RANGE)

Though it’s unclear whether Matt Shea was part of the group pressuring Williams to be baptized, Shea performed the baptism itself. McCarty said that, as things played out, his wife Betty “told Matt he’s not ready to be baptized.”

“A lot of people will say the sinner’s prayer under duress or pressure,” Dean McCarty explained. The sinner’s prayer is a common Evangelical ritual practice for a person to accept Christ as their savior and become Christian. 

RANGE asked Shea over email to comment on whether Williams was pressured into being baptized, but he did not respond.

Despite Williams’ and Betty McCarty’s pushback, the group from On Fire Ministries baptized Williams. Feucht’s YouTube video picks back up outside the concert venue. Another text fades in, this one reading, “God always writes the best stories.” Shea, whose eyes were closed, prayed over Williams, who sat waist-deep in a horse-trough baptistry. Williams said the water was “ice-cold.” He was now wearing different clothing the Christians had given to him. He put his right hand over his nose and mouth as Shea and another man moved his body backward into the water until he was fully submerged and then out again. Williams wiped his face. 

Williams said he changed back into his clothing, and the McCartys drove him back to City Gate. The pair occasionally visit Williams on the streets, but Williams said no one from the group of Christians who baptized him has reached out to him. He says he sometimes appreciates the McCartys’ visits. 

“They have good intentions,” Williams said recently.

Williams said he did not know the baptism scene was being filmed or that it would be broadcast on television. 

Apart from the few unheard words he said to Feucht onstage, Williams does not talk in the video. But since that night, Feucht has had plenty to say.

Ministry versus marketing

Since his guitar was stolen, Feucht has posted at least four videos to YouTube depicting the saga as it unfolded. Three videos link in their descriptions to the website of Sean Feucht Ministries. Visitors to the landing page of the website see a pop-up window with a link to purchase Feucht’s “Superspreader” documentary. A basic streaming version is available for $19.99, a rental is $8.99 and the “deluxe edition” goes for $25. Screening licenses for theaters start at $99. Visitors can subscribe to Feucht’s newsletters, which come most days and contain links to donation portals for Let Us Worship or to buy Feucht’s books, his concert tour merchandise or streaming access to his highly-produced concert documentaries. Receipts come from Sean Feucht Ministries. In addition to Williams’s story, Feucht has solicited money off everything from homeschooling German immigrants to Spokane’s local politics

After the concert, Feucht continued spreading falsehoods about Williams, even claiming on social media, without evidence, that “After his salvation and baptism, [Williams] is 3 weeks sober and staying with a family in the church! He is now ministering and saving souls on the same streets!” McCarty and Williams both said Williams has not been housed since the concert, and Williams said he is still using fentanyl and is not interested in getting clean. He does not consider himself a believer.

Feucht in an interview on Fox & Friends, talking about Williams. “He gave his life to Jesus, Pete,” Feucht said to an estimated audience of 1.35 million.

One week after the concert, Feucht was interviewed on the conservative morning show Fox & Friends by Pete Hegseth. Hegseth repeated the false claim that the guitar was found in a pawn shop. Hegseth called it a story of Williams “finding God and forgiveness.” He said Williams attended the concert on “a quest for forgiveness and ultimately baptism.”

Feucht said, “Man, this story is so good, we have to share it with all of America.” He did not correct the falsehoods Hegseth had just reported as fact. Feucht called Williams “the guy” and emphasized that having a guitar stolen is a “nightmare for an artist.” Neither Hegseth nor Feucht said Williams’s name during the broadcast. Feucht said the guitar “was found” rather than returned. He said, “Long story short, he [Williams] ends up reaching out to some people in the street ministry team in Spokane and says, ‘You know, I’d really like to go see this guy, Sean.’” This contradicts McCarty’s and Williams’s accounts that McCarty found Williams and asked him to attend the concert. During the interview, Feucht described his encounter with Williams onstage as “a total surprise.” This contradicts his earlier statement that street ministers had invited Williams. On Fox & Friends, Feucht said, “I gave him a big hug and said, ‘What was once lost has now been found. It’s more than just a guitar. It’s about your life, man. God loves you. He died for you. And today is your day to come home.’ 

“And he gave his life to Jesus, Pete.” Feucht’s eyes grew wide. “Isn’t this crazy?”

“That’s absolutely incredible,” Hegseth replied. “Most of us would have responded with, ‘Hey, throw the book at this guy. Instead, you brought the holy book to this guy.’”

Again Feucht played the part of God’s vessel. “God is writing a bigger story, and any time God writes a story, it always ends well,” he said. “I was like, ‘Man, God, if you can work a miracle, it’s gonna be worth all the headache of this, all the drama, all the heartache for me as a musician to lose my guitar.’ And God worked a miracle.”

Every step of the way, Feucht and his team built the ripple of a stolen guitar into a flood of engagement that washed over more than just Feucht himself. Up and down the conservative media ecosystem, from Matt Shea to Christian media outlets to Fox News, people dined out on the story. Whether these are honest reactions to a seeming miracle or just marketing to an audience of believers, those media figures benefited from telling the most miraculous version of this story possible. 

But that’s not the version everyone tells. Perhaps because he and Betty McCarty have continued to check in with Williams, or perhaps because he doesn’t have such a large social media audience to feed, Dean McCarty was circumspect about the redemption story and said Christians should remain humble in their ministries. 

McCarty correctly suspected that Williams did not accept Jesus on that stage and criticized Feucht for exaggerating the tale. “You’re stretching it to make a story, and you’re full of crap,” McCarty said, pretending he was speaking to Feucht. “We don’t need to make a show of this deal.”

‘We bleed the same blood you guys bleed’

Williams was riding his longboard downtown one recent evening as the sun set behind the Spokane skyline. He looked free, floating westward across Madison. He said riding takes his mind off of his many worries. 

Williams at Atilano’s on Third Avenue in September. / Photo by Ben Tobin (For RANGE)

But he always is called back to his reality. He said someone PepperBalled him on the street – he had a few pink, quarter-sized welts on his side to prove it. The following day, he said, a man wielding a “log” struck him in the left elbow, which was now swollen to the size of a softball. He kept cupping it and working the joint as he ate fruit and breadsticks on the sidewalk. 

He still uses fentanyl, and said he smokes at a frequency of between every other hour and every half hour. He appears able to score despite what he called a “drought” in the local supply. He’s still generous with his resources. A man who appeared to also be unhoused stopped by Williams’s sidewalk perch and asked if he could “spare some foil,” a widely-used tool of fentanyl use. Williams dug into his pack, pulled out a sheet of aluminum and tore a piece off for the man. Then he promised to give some of his pizza to some other unhoused folks who were sitting on the sidewalk just down the street.

He hopes he will soon have enough income to stop breaking into cars and get a place. Then, maybe his partner will return to him.

“I really don’t want to do this shit no more,” he said. “I really don’t.” He mentions his partner’s disapproval of his breaking into cars, saying, “I don’t blame her. It’s dangerous. I could get into a car, try to grab something. Somebody could come out and shoot me.”

And while that hope remains, Betty McCarty said she has noticed Williams was unwell.

“I’ve been praying for him,” she said. “When I first met him, he seemed so self-sufficient and knew the streets and was capable and ready. And now it seems like he’s going downhill. … He’s getting very uncomfortable.”

She and Dean hope he will come to Christ. But when Williams tells his story, rather than having it told for him, it becomes clear that the Christians’ efforts to bring him into the fold have not worked – at least not yet. And though he said he appreciates the visits from the McCartys, he called the experience at Let Us Worship “creepy,” vowing to never put himself through an ordeal like that again.

Williams seems to have more faith that his life will improve by getting into housing than by becoming a Christian. 

“There’s gotta be something better than this. There’s gotta be a way out of this,” he said, saying he believes that neither his drug use nor the state of his soul should condemn him to being unhoused. “Everybody’s telling me, ‘Oh, you gotta be clean, you gotta do this, you gotta do that.’ No, you don’t. You don’t gotta be clean. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do to be able to live with a roof over your head.”

He has advice for how those with homes can interact with unhoused people. “When you see a homeless person on the streets, don’t shy away from them,” he said. “A lot of [unhoused] people like talking to people. Especially normal people.”

This advice feels like a prayer of sorts, a Psalm to be invited back into the larger brotherhood of humanity.

And, while accepting Jesus is something most Christians believe is open to anyone, it seems clear that, in Williams’s two decades of experience on the streets, acceptance back into society is a door that only opens from the inside. 

“We usually shy away from you guys because we’re scared of the reaction that you’re going to give us or whether you’re going to judge us or how you’re going to mistreat us,” he said. “We’re humans, too. We bleed the same blood you guys bleed.”

Additional reporting by Ben Tobin.

Editor’s Note: RANGE corroborated everything Zach Williams told us with at least one independent source except his comments about his partner and his daily life. Those stories are told solely from Williams’s perspective.

Aaron Hedge, originally from Colorado, earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Eastern Washington University in June 2023. His writing explores environmental issues and the relationship between humans and animals. He grew up in a Christian home and wants to write more about end times theology.

RANGE Mediahttps://www.rangemedia.co/
RANGE is a media organization for people who love the Inland Northwest and want to make it better. We are building an anti-racist, equity-minded, class-focused newsroom striving to spotlight the perspectives and expertise of members of marginalized communities, from the ground up.

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Dane McFadhen
Dane McFadhen
8 months ago

Incredibly good sleuthing by Aaron Hedge, Ben Tobin and Range Media. Sean Feucht wants to be god. Sad to say most Christians will not read this or if they do, most will not leave their names or praises to the intrepid reporters.

This act proves religion can be poison.

Skippy Jenkins
Skippy Jenkins
8 months ago

I’ll take “Least surprising plot twists” for $1,000, Alex.

Andy Pope
8 months ago

This is a great article, and I have shared it on Twitter. However, it brings up a lot of triggers for me.

I did not appreciate: “his partner of six or seven years, who he calls ‘my wife.'” If that man said she was his wife, they should have honored his statement, and rightly called her his wife. Homeless people do get married, you know, and they even have kids.

I lived on the streets or in nearby places outdoors for many years. One of the things that struck me the most is how homeless people (or I suppose I must say “unhoused” nowadays, to appease the word police) are regarded as in some essential way different than other human beings. We felt as though we were treated as though we were of an entirely different species.

As far as the rising usage of the word “unhoused,” I suppose that if I can’t beat ’em, join ’em. I myself have begun to use it in certain contexts, because after all, it is only a word. But when we were homeless, we were irked by words such as “shelter” and “housing” because they mainly served to differentiate us from other members of the human race.

If I lived inside and was seeking new residence, I would not say I was looking for “housing.” I’d say, “I’m looking for a place to live.”

If I lived outside and was seeking new residence, I would not say I was looking or “housing.” I’d say, “I’m looking for a place to live.”

However, if someone lived inside and wanted to help me find a place to live, they would often say, “I want to help you find housing.”

Why the different language? Because, consciously or unconsciously, the person who lives inside is stigmatizing the homeless person. In that person’s mind, only people who live inside have the luxury of looking for a “place to live.” The homeless person has to be “housed.”

While it may seem I am being picky or oversensitive, please imagine how you would feel if you had been outside for years, and you had written a musical about youth homelessness in urban America, and someone who had always lived inside told you that you couldn’t use the word “homeless” in your musical, and that you had to change it to “unhoused.” Honestly, it makes me want to cash in my chips.

All that said, it’s still a great article, and Mr. Williams’ experience is definitely honored. I don’t know what to say about the evangelical extremists. I will say that I am a Christian, that I read the article, and that I believe the basic Scripture: “The Lord knows those who are His.” Salvation is something accomplished by God, and not by any human endeavor.

Charles McGlocklin
Charles McGlocklin
8 months ago
Reply to  Andy Pope

Hanlon’s razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by ignorance.” 
I have often put my foot in my mouth because of ignorance. I would not consider myself a vengeful person.
Thank you for better ways to converse with the homeless or unhoused. I will ask their preference.

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