A Tennessee pastor threatened to boot mask-wearers from his Tennessee church as some places are taking additional measures to help protect against the more contagious coronavirus delta variant.
“If they go through round two and you start showing up (with) all these masks and all this nonsense, I will ask you to leave,” pastor Greg Locke told his Nashville-area congregation during a service on Sunday. “I will ask you to leave. I am not playing these Democrat games up in this church.”
Locke’s comments at Global Vision Bible Church come as some U.S. communities reconsider face mask recommendations during the continued spread of the delta variant. Locke in his sermon criticized officials for eyeing potential restrictions.
“I ain’t playing these stupid games,” Locke said in a video posted to Facebook on Sunday. “A bunch of pastors talking about how much they want to see people heal and they’re afraid to baptize people because of a delta variant — I’m sick of it.”
Locke during his sermon also vowed to keep his church open in Mount Juliet, east of Nashville.
“They will be serving Frosty’s in hell before we shut this place down,” he said.
Locke made similar comments earlier in the pandemic, when he said in July 2020 that he was willing to go to jail before closing his church. At that time, a video showed maskless people listening to an in-person sermon as Tennessee health officials recommended faith groups hold their services remotely, McClatchy News reported.
“We are staying open,” Locke said in his past Facebook video. “You ain’t gotta wear a mask. We’re not social distancing.”
About two months later, hundreds of people reportedly defied mask mandates in Washington state when they gathered to hear Locke speak.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged people to wear face coverings inside public buildings if they haven’t gotten a COVID-19 vaccine. Health officials also are encouraging people to get vaccinated against the disease to help stop them from getting seriously sick.
A spokesperson for Global Vision Bible Church didn’t immediately respond to McClatchy News’ requests for comment Monday.