(RNS) — A Tennessee pastor recognized for controversial stands on COVID-19 and the 2020 election has been banned from the social media large Twitter.
“Twitter simply completely suspended my account. Welcome to America,” Greg Locke mentioned in a Fb message posted Tuesday afternoon (Sept. 14).
Pastor of the unbiased World Imaginative and prescient Bible Church in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, simply east of Nashville, Locke was a comparatively unknown determine till he found the facility of social media within the wake of the 2015 Supreme Court docket resolution legalizing same-sex marriage nationally.
His Fb movies criticizing that call and follow-up movies about plans by Goal to permit transgender folks to make use of the lavatory of their alternative went viral, turning Locke right into a social media pressure.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” he informed Faith Information Service in an interview earlier this yr at America’s Revival, a God-and-country convention held in Dallas, the place Locke was a featured speaker. “I’ve simply been hanging on for the experience.”
Locke has repeatedly mocked those that put on masks to forestall the unfold of COVID-19 and has informed worshipers that anybody who reveals up at his church in a masks will probably be requested to go away.
The pastor went as far as to submit an anti-mask signal outdoors the three,000-seat tent the place his church holds out of doors companies, stating that the church campus is mask-free.
“We have a good time FAITH over FEAR,” the signal reads.
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“Don’t imagine this delta variant nonsense,” he informed worshipers at a July service. “In the event that they undergo spherical two and also you begin exhibiting up all these masks and all this nonsense, I’ll ask you to go away. I’ll ask you to go away. I’m not enjoying these Democrat video games up on this church. If you wish to social distance, go to First Baptist Church, however don’t come to this one.”
Whereas the governor of Tennessee has issued previous tips limiting the dimensions of enormous group conferences in the course of the pandemic, church buildings have been exempt from these statewide restrictions.
Locke has additionally warned churchgoers to not be vaccinated, referring to the COVID-19 vaccine as an “experimental potion.”
“Don’t get vaccinated,” he informed his congregation in August. “Don’t get vaccinated.”
Only a regular Sunday at World Imaginative and prescient Bible Church as right-wing pastor Greg Locke actually screams at his congregation “don’t get vaccinated” whereas saying that solely “crack-smoking, demon-possessed leftists” assume Biden is the legit president. pic.twitter.com/humGnQnBoC
— Proper Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) August 1, 2021
Locke, whose sermons are additionally full of conspiracy theories in regards to the 2020 presidential election — he has known as individuals who imagine that Joe Biden gained the election “crack-smoking, demon-controlled leftists” — declined to be interviewed in regards to the Twitter ban. In a Fb Stay video, he claimed to be the primary pastor to be banned on Twitter and mentioned his banning was an assault on Christians.
“if you don’t assume persecution is right here, you are not paying consideration,” he mentioned within the Fb Stay video.
Within the video, Locke claimed he would sue Twitter and known as for his fellow Christians to battle what he sees as liberal forces destroying the nation.
“We’re not going to cease,” he mentioned.
Regardless of its lack of masks, World Imaginative and prescient has drawn massive crowds, typically drawing out-of-state followers of Locke’s movies. Locke mentioned that the church has baptized greater than 1,000 folks in the course of the pandemic and he has no plans to cease in-person companies.
Earlier this yr, Locke informed attendees at America’s Revival that his church would resist any makes an attempt to close down these companies, saying the Second Modification’s proper to bear arms would shield their proper to worship.
A pure showman on stage, Locke has backpacked for lots of of miles to lift cash to purchase Bibles, spent the night time in a growth raise and bicycled for hours within the chilly to lift cash for the homeless. One all-night session on his stationary bike ended after greater than 170 turkeys had been donated to the church, in time to provide away in the course of the holidays.
In his Fb Stay, Locke mentioned that he had been banned from Twitter for brief durations up to now and he inspired viewers to observe him on Fb and different social media channels. Locke’s Twitter web page notes the suspension and says: “Twitter suspends accounts which violate the Twitter Guidelines.”
In an interview with RNS earlier this yr, Locke in contrast himself to John the Baptist and mentioned he was “a voice crying within the wilderness.”
I believe individuals are hungry for the reality,” he mentioned. “I believe I say issues that individuals assume however they’re afraid of the repercussions.”
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