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It’s rained all day. You’ve been wondering if the bonfire is still going to happen tonight. Luckily though, god’s good graces have prevailed, and the downpour seems to have stopped just in time. You chide yourself for having doubted. With some occult stuff (mostly old Disney merch) sitting in the back of your flatbed, you hop in the driver’s seat and trundle on over. Pastor Locke himself seems on fire tonight, radiating energy. You always love the songs that come before the sermon but whenever he gets up on stage it feels like the lord’s spirit has entered you. He denounces the Masons and Satanists who have been threatening the church, even mentioning how the fire department threatened to put out the burning display. You felt a bit of shock at that. A couple of years ago, you and everyone you knew trusted the local government. It seems like even that’s gone away now. The pastor lets way for more music before hopping back into preaching. He immediately calls out the way other churches have been conducting spiritual warfare.
“Jesus more than anything else cast out demons!” He says, in a yell-talk that he seems accustomed to.
“Jesus dealt with the root of the issue not the fruit of the issue.“ he continues, “The American Church likes to talk about fruit but never gets down to the root.”
Pastor Locke even denounces the prosperity “gospel” and Kenneth Copeland. He really is a man of faith, isn’t he?
“Doctors keep people sick ‘cause there’s money in it. Preachers keep people weak and emotionally disconnected cause there’s money in it.”
He got to preaching the bible. All of it felt true. It sure as hell got you riled up to fight Satan.
Then we all prayed, left the tent, and burned the occult. We tossed Disney, Nike, Masonic and demonic items in the fire and prayed and sang and chanted. Our own little inquisition. A safe one for sure—all the people there to protect you had long guns, and when a man came out to yell “Hail Satan! Hail Satan! Hail Satan!” you and about twenty other people all chased him off.
Our own little slice of heaven on earth.
In between threatening to kick in Dunkin Donuts employees teeth and refusing to follow his own dictates opposing divorce, Greg Locke is a pastor at Global Vision Bible Church (formerly Global Vision Baptist Church.) It takes little to find offensive comments on from him.
“Transgenderism is not a civil right. It’s not normal, it’s anti-biblical. And I’m sorry, just because I have morals and values that does not make me a discriminatory bigot. I’m sick of the day and age in which we live when people call good evil and evil they call good.”
Recently Locke also put out more serious calls to join things like the Black Robe Regiment, a far-right nationalist group of pastors that advocates preaching a “patriotic view” of American politics. Locke’s idea of patriotism meant encouraging his followers to attend the January 6th insurrection during sermons and railing in support of Trump’s lies about election fraud. But Locke also calls for more local forms of violence. Recently, he organized burnings of so-called “demonic” items like the Harry Potter and Twilight children’s/young adult books from almost two decades ago. LCRW attended one incognito on Wednesday last week and will tell the tale later.
Burning books isn’t new to Greg Locke. In 2019 he jumped to twitter to post a video of himself burning a book titled “The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American.”
Locke’s beliefs are firmly rooted in Christian Fundamentalism. The church he leads, Global Vision Bible Church, originally identified itself with the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement (IFB)—one of the most conservative groups of Christians in the nation. He dissociated from the IFB in mid 2011, claiming that the leadership of the movement had tried to pressure him into taking on a “legalistic mindset of man-made regulations.” Locke claims he pledged to remain amicable with the IFB despite parting ways. Incidentally, in 2019 in Knoxville an IFB pastor and sheriff’s detective called for the trial and summary execution of queer people.
Locke’s most explicit target of last week’s event was the freemasons, with their name being repeatedly brought up. Presumably, this was afterthe unofficial Facebook account “Masonic Network” attempted to get his post calling them evil taken down on Facebook.
At the beginning, Locke primed the parishioners. He said there were freemasons and witches in the audience and that he would not break bread with them. But those weren’t the only foes in their midst, he claimed—Department of Homeland Security was there too. LCRW didn’t see any uniformed DHS agents and could not confirm this at press time. He called on DHS to go down to the border to deal with people migrating into the United States. Locke then named more of his enemies: Planned Parenthood, Joe Biden, The Democratic Party and virtually every group you would assume to be on the list was present.
Then began the more interesting rhetoric: how Jesus more than anything else dealt with casting out demons. Even when he was healing the sick he was casting out demons that were causing the sickness. Try to think about what he views as satanic. Disney, BLM, and Twilight all fit under that category. Locke, like many preachers of his ilk, frames the targets of his hate and violence as tools of the devil and everything in his way, even a child’s autism, are satanic forces to be fought against.
LCRW reached out to Bradley Onishi, host of the Straight White American Jesus podcast to define the concept of “Spiritual Warfare:”
“Spiritual Warfare is a term that comes from a worldview that sees everything—from globe changing events to whether or not an individual is healthy—as a battle between good and evil. Any challenge, unexpected circumstance, or unpleasant experience can be attributed, thus, to spiritual warfare. It’s a catchall for anything that is undesired on an individual or communal level. This means that labelling phenomena such as mental illness or addiction as a matter of spiritual warfare.”
Locke went on to denounce the way that “The American Church” had been dealing with spiritual warfare. He said that they had dealt with the “Root of the issue not the fruit of the issue.” and that he was here to perform “Root deep preaching.” After this, he did something fairly unique for pastors with as much name recognition as him. He denounced the prosperity gospel as well as pastors who peddle it like Kenneth Copeland. Locke said they were grifters who kept people “weak and spiritually disconnected to make money.”
He talked about how Christians have power over demonic items and unclean spirits, quoting Mathew 10:1—
“And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.”
Again, more rhetoric to prepare people for combat with demons. Locke continued on for about an hour like this. Then he said two really “interesting” things within the span of 60 seconds:
“People wanted to kill [Christians] then and guess what they wanna kill us now,” he said.
“I ain’t gonna be suiciding myself no time soon.”
“White evangelicals play two sides of the same game,” Onishi told LCRW. “On one hand, they are the most powerful religious group in the country. Their influence in electoral politics, policy making, and culture are unmatched. Yet they claim victimhood constantly in order to galvanize the movement against the next big bad who is supposedly coming to persecute them. It’s an ingenious strategy even if it appears at times incoherent or unjustified.”
Shortly after this, Locke let his wife get on stage and lead the parish in prayer, quickly followed by everyone leaving the tent to go and burn what demonic items they had brought.
As we approached the bonfire, I pulled out my phone and began to take pictures and videos. I walked up as close as the heat would allow me to. It felt like a tide pulling people in to get a feeling and then pushing people away once they became overwhelmed by the heat. I saw people crowded around the fire and repeatedly I heard this deep bellowing siren that I couldn’t find in any of the other videos I’ve seen of that night. It felt like one of the trumpets that are supposed to blare as a signal for the end times. I saw kids—at least a dozen of them, though probably more. A guy ran up from part of the less populated areas of the circle and yelled “Hail Satan!” a handful of times then got chased off. He was the only counter-protester I saw that entire night. People kept tossing shit in, I saw a tiger plushy slowly melt at the edge of the fire for almost 10 minutes, its rapidly decaying body slowly becoming unrecognizable. A lady passed by me with a Halloween mask from Maleficent at the top of a cardboard box and I swear to God it felt like it was staring right back at me.
Eventually the energy began to dissipate, and I had to head home. I called my friend who’s a bit more spiritually inclined than me on what I should do to cleanse my spirit. If being there did one thing, it definitely made my soul dirtier. She said that tonight was a good night for oranges and to take a bath with them.
So I did.