There are those who would say that since I am not a Christian, I have no right to comment on the religion or its adherents. In most cases, I would agree with them, but … it seems I just cannot keep my nose out of this one. In no way am I criticizing Christianity or its followers as a whole, but rather certain elements that are doing more harm than good to this entire nation, and that are giving Christianity overall a bad image, a reputation that Christians won’t find easy to live down.
While I find ‘evangelicals’ to be particularly narrow-minded and offputting, my current target is two specific evangelical pastors, men of the cloth who are supposed to be preaching peace, love, and all that sort of stuff, but instead are promoting hatred and violence. I might not care if they were one-offs, if nobody much was listening and most people took their rantings with a grain of salt, but as it is, both seem to have a fairly large following and thus they have the potential to inflict great harm in this nation. And in that, I find justification for offering my two cents worth.
The first is Pastor Mark Burns who is running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from South Carolina’s District 4. Now, I have a problem with Burns’ platform, with some of his recent statements such as …
- “We need to replace God at the center of American politics. The separation between church and state was not designed to keep the church out of the government, it was designed to keep the government out of the church.”
- “I will fight to restore law & order, election integrity, secure our borders, protect our God-given & America 1st agenda!”
- “Life begins at conception, marriage is defined as between one man and one woman, our right to keep and bear arms is INHERENT, given to us by God almighty — NOT by any man.”
Feeling sick yet? This is the type of rhetoric that is often used by the Republican Party these days to rile the uninformed masses, to play to their religious beliefs, and as I said, if he only attracted a handful of people, I wouldn’t waste my time writing about him. But he has a fairly large following and he has the support of the former guy which, sadly, counts for a lot among some fools.
Mark Burns lied through his teeth about both his military service and education, lies that were easily disproven and he later admitted to them, but used the pathetic excuse that he was attacked because he is “a black man supporting Donald Trump for president.” Oh yeah … minor detail, he still claims to believe that the election was stolen and that Trump is the rightful president.
But what raises my hackles is that he is urging his supporters to commit violence. Our friend Scottie did a post on this with a couple of relevant videos a week or so ago, but in summary, Mr. Burns, while speaking at a rally in Oregon, told the audience to smash the car windows of anyone they believed was ‘antifa’. Now, I am 100% against fascism, so that makes me an antifascist, but I am not a member of any group called antifa, and from everything I’ve read, it is a very small, unorganized group that gets far more credit than it deserves. But to the point, when a candidate running for office advises violence, he should be removed from the ballot. When a religious ‘leader’ calls for violence, he should be thrown out on his ear. Instead, the crowds love him. There is something pathetic about that.
The second is Pastor Greg Locke whose message is one of hate rather than peace and love. Locke is a white supremacist and pastor of Global Vision Bible Church in the small town of Mount Juliet, Tennessee. He participated in the events of January 6th at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., and the Proud Boys white supremacist organization often provide security at Locke’s events, if that tells you something. To me, it speaks volumes, but even more so are Locke’s words. He is against the COVID vaccine, saying …
“If you’ve had the covid-19 shot, I’m telling you you’ve got poison in your veins. We call out the covid-19 vaccine out right now. Keep that demonic spirit out of you right now in the name of Jesus!”
Just words, you might say, but when words are believed, as Locke’s often are, they can cause great harm. How many people, listening to Locke’s words, have died of COVID because they believed his spiel? He has a large online presence … he claims millions of followers, but even if it’s only thousands, he is a dangerous firebrand. Two months ago he held a massive book burning, throwing in copies of such beloved books as the Harry Potter series among others. He promotes hatred against the LGBTQ community and against people with mental disabilities.
I find it disturbing that according to an article in The Washington Post …
“Locke has a social media following of 4 million across multiple platforms, and attendance at Sunday services has grown from 200 before the pandemic to more than 1,000, spilling out of the church building and into an enormous climate-controlled tent, which Locke calls a ‘canvas cathedral.’”
Again, the real danger is that so many people, for whatever reason, listen to and hang on Locke’s words – words of hate, words of dissent, words that incite violence against any and all who view the world through a different lens than Pastor Locke.
I don’t know the solution to counter the hate of both of these men, Mark Burns and Greg Locke. I only know that they are a threat to us all in one way or another. The 1st Amendment that guarantees free speech enables them to spread their message of hatred and violence unchecked, and those without the ability to think and reason may well become their private army against the rest of us.