Greg Locke, a pastor based in Nashville, Tennessee, recently issued a COVID-related statement that has since courted controversy.
According to an Insider article, Locke told his congregation members that they should refrain from attending church services if they did not want to get booted out.
The pastor told his Global Bible Vision congregation that wearing face coverings is 'senseless.'
"You start showing up (with) all these masks and all this nonsense, I will ask you to leave," Locke warned his flock during Sunday's service, July 25.
'Delta Variant Nonsense'
In a video posted by CNN, Pastor Locke argued that COVID-19 is just a 'false pandemic' and that the Delta variant is 'total nonsense.'
"Don't believe this Delta variant nonsense," Locke forcefully told church members.
"Stop it!" he said.
Nick Valencia, a CNN correspondent, explained that Locke's belief about God being behind his "crusade of misinformation and flat out lies" and people's positive reactions to the pastor's pronouncements is "scary."
Valencia said that Locke's church grew in size since last year even as the pastor continuously dismisses COVID-19 as a "fake pandemic."
The correspondent also noted how the pastor adamantly claims that COVID-19 vaccines are "a scam" and the Delta variant is "a hoax."
But, the controversial pastor did not stop there.
Locke also reportedly lashed out against fellow pastors who refrain from baptizing people because of COVID-19 considerations.
"They will be serving Frosty's in hell before we shut this place down," Locke told his congregation.
He also called the government "buck wild" and "demon-possessed," the report noted.
Valencia, asked about the local community's reaction to Locke's statements about COVID-19 matters, explained that opinions are split.
The correspondent said that one family who lost someone to COVID-19 has members who disagree with Locke, while others continue attending services and believing in the pastor.
Valencia added that Locke steadily spreads disinformation week after week even as members of his church have died due to COVID-19.
Controversies Surrounding Pastor Locke
The Insider article named some issues that made Pastor Locke a highly controversial religious figure.
In April 2020, Locke reportedly defied official government measures to ensure ample distance between people to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The report said that the pastor had his two children re-enact Christ's crucifixion, which effectively violated social distancing protocols.
In July last year, Locke expressed his willingness to be incarcerated for his stand against church lockdown based on government order.
Additionally, Locked was interviewed earlier this year, claiming to have 'prayed and preached' as rioters stormed the US capitol on Jan. 6.
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According to another Insider article, the country has hit nearly 50,000 new COVID-19 incidents daily.
Last Friday alone, authorities recorded some 81,000 new transmissions.
The report said this is the highest number of new COVID-19 cases since Feb. 13.
In response, Insider said that the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is mulling more stringent mask mandate to help drive the numbers down.
The report added that the spike could be attributed to the Delta variant, which spreads quicker than the other COVID-19 variants so far.
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