Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his wife, Casey, rang in the new year at a Christian concert in Miami, where he touted the state's freedom during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I wish you all a Happy New Year," DeSantis told the crowd in attendance. "I'm glad we're going to be able to celebrate the new year in the freest state of the United States."

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the opening of a monoclonal antibody site on Aug. 18, 2021, in Pembroke Pines, Florida.

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the opening of a monoclonal antibody site on Aug. 18, 2021, in Pembroke Pines, Florida. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)


"If you've seen what's happened over the past year and a half in this country – Florida, we stood up for your freedom, we stood up for your rights," DeSantis said. "We were not going to let government take away the rights that are the gift from God, not from government."

DeSantis also took aim at state leaders who closed churches and places of worship and instead allowed "liquor or the strip clubs" to remain open as essential operations during the onslaught of the pandemic.

"That was wrong. … That was an agenda at play. They were using this to be able to erode your rights and your liberties and here's the thing, they can't take away your freedoms, they can't take away your rights to worship, to go to church, and to give thanks to God," he said. "In Florida, you can mark it down, we will not let anyone shut you down and we are gonna make sure our rights are respected. That's what we've done and that's what we will continue to do."

Christian singer Sean Feucht, who orchestrated and performed at the New Year's Eve celebration, also prayed over DeSantis and his wife, saying "I thank you for the gift they are to America."

Worship leader Sean Feucht.

Worship leader Sean Feucht. (Courtesy of Sean Feucht)

"I thank you Lord that in the midst of a pandemic and tyrannical governors and leaders, Lord you raised up Godly men and women to stand up for our rights, the church, and to stand up for the constitution," Feucht said during the prayer, calling for "full healing" of DeSantis' wife as she faces breast cancer.

DeSantis announced in October that his wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer, telling Fox News at the time that as "the mother of three young children, Casey is the centerpiece of our family and has made an impact on the lives of countless Floridians through her initiatives as first lady."

DeSantis family

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, first lady Casey DeSantis and their three children (left to right) Mamie, Madison and Mason. (Florida governor's office)


"I'm also grateful the state of Florida has, out of 50 states, the best first lady of all 50 states, my wife," DeSantis said Friday night, adding that he is "looking forward" to his wife's recovery.

Other critics took to social media to lament the DeSantises' appearance at the Christian concert.

"Not the safest environment for a patient undergoing cancer treatment," a tweet read from Shanlon Wu, a CNN legal analyst and former prosecutor.

After facing criticism from local and national opposition leaders, who claimed the governor had gone "missing" last week, Fox News learned Friday that he had accompanied Casey to a cancer treatment.