We ignore pastors’ irresponsible talk at our peril

We ignore pastors’ irresponsible talk at our peril June 30, 2021

By Annie Laurie Gaylor
Freedom From Religion Foundation

Novelist George Eliot once observed, “The clergy are, practically, the most irresponsible of all talkers.” In her 1855 essay, “Evangelical Teaching: Dr. Cumming,” she went after a popular contemporary evangelical preacher in Great Britain, charging that he mistook “platitudes” for wisdom and “bigoted narrowness as holy zeal.”

But even a novelist as great as Eliot could surely not have conceived of an evangelist who is as much of a caricature and as irresponsible a “talker” as Pastor Greg Locke of Global Vision Bible Church in Joliet, Tenn.

Newsweek termed Locke’s sermon the past Sunday as “raucous.” He castigated President Biden as “demon-possessed,” called Vice President Kamala Harris a “jezebel demon,” and claimed they oversee “child-trafficking” tunnels underneath the White House. Yes, Locke’s sermon irresponsibly repeated the crazed theories of “QAnon.”

And, of course, Locke restated the Big Lie that former President Trump is the “legitimate” leader of the United States. A self-proclaimed “prophet,” Locke insisted in his sermon that his prediction about Trump winning the election was a “fact.”

Locke’s bizarre tirade didn’t spare even Tom Hanks or the pope.

“I don’t care what you think about fraudulent ‘Sleepy Joe,’ he’s a sex trafficking, demon-possessed mongrel, he’s of the left, he ain’t no better than the pope and Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks and the rest of that wicked crowd. God is going to bring the whole house down!” he thundered during his sermon.

Chillingly, Locke’s baseless claims of pedophiliac, sex-child trafficking tunnels below the White House were met by his congregation with a standing ovation, according to Newsweek.

Like Trump, Locke fortunately has been banned from social media (and, by the way, threatened to retaliate with violence by saying that the church would respond “with our Second Amendment right” ).

Even merely reporting on this irresponsible talk risks, of course, bringing attention to this bozo, which is what he is after. But, after all, our nation was asleep at the wheel; we weren’t paying enough attention to the QAnon crowd, the Christian nationalist and white supremacist crazies — until they took over the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. And lest we not forget, who do you think was in that mob outside the Capitol? Yes, indeed, Greg Locke: “I went up there and prayed with some people and got a bullhorn and preached about Jesus.” He hyped the riot ahead of time, repeating the Big Lie and urging “patriots” to go to D.C.

Locke and the other extremists are still out there, finding other ways to hype their irresponsible and pernicious lies. And they’re still finding an audience that will give them standing ovations.

Such irresponsible talk by pastors and true believers has led to outrageous action. We ignore that at our peril.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, a third-generation freethinker, co-founded FFRF with her mother Anne Gaylor as a college student in 1976. She served as editor of Freethought Today, FFRF’s newspaper, from 1985 to 2009. Her book, Woe to the Women: The Bible Tells Me So, first published by FFRF in 1981, is in its 4th printing. In 1988, FFRF published Betrayal of Trust: Clergy Abuse of Children, the first book documenting widespread sexual abuse by clergy. Her 1997 anthology, Women Without Superstition: ‘No Gods, No Masters,’ is the first collection of the writings of historic and contemporary women freethinkers. She has been plaintiff in or overseen many state/church lawsuits and actions by FFRF. Annie Laurie has appeared on a variety of TV news shows, including “Oprah,” “O’Reilly,” “Good Morning America,” Univision, CNN and FOX news segments, CBS Evening News and ABC World News Tonight. Photo of Annie Laurie by Chris Line.

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