A firebrand Tennessee pastor has threatened to ban church members if they show up wearing masks.
Speaking to attendees at Global Vision Bible Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, on Sunday, Pastor Greg Locke said, "Don’t believe this delta variant nonsense. Stop it! Stop it!" WKRN reported.
"If they go through round two and you start showing up in all these masks and all this nonsense, I’ll ask you to leave. I will ask you to leave," Locke said in a service streamed on YouTube. "I am not playing these Democrat games up in this church. If you want to social distance, go to First Baptist Church, but don’t come to this one.
"Bunch of pastors talking about how much they want to see people heal. They’re afraid to baptize people because of a delta variant. I’m sick of it."
Speaking in a red-and-white striped circus tent about 20 miles east of downtown Nashville, Locke told his congregation: "I don't need to be a jerk for Jesus, but I'm not going to kowtow down to a wicked godless culture.
"Here's what the left has told us: 'If you comply, you compromise, if you comply, eventually you'll get in our good graces,'" he said. "But no, you'll never be able to comply enough."
Locke said Democrats shut down the country during the COVID-19 pandemic for their own personal gain.
"I ain't playing their games, shut the nation down for a second time," Locke said. "It didn't hurt the economy bad enough.
"You know what happens when they shut down private businesses? They open government businesses. The government isn't hurting one bit."
Locke has gained attention for previous statements about COVID, and for supporting former President Donald Trump’s claims that the 2020 presidential election results were due to voter fraud, the Daily Mail reported.
In March 2020, Locke announced he had no plans to stop holding service despite a warning from Gov. Bill Lee, R-Tenn., who had urged churches to move their services online.
Then in July 2020, Locke posted on Facebook that the church was remaining open and people didn't have to wear masks or social distance, claiming: "I don't care if they sent the military, they roll up in there with tanks ... ladies and gentleman, we are staying open," the Daily Mail reported.
Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey last week said the state had experienced a more than 200% increase in overall COVID-19 cases since July 1, averaging more than 700 new cases per day over a seven-day period, WKRN reported.
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