Pastor Greg Locke has told his congregation that coronavirus restrictions have no place in his church. His stand, announced Sunday, apparently was sparked by federal health officials' reconsideration of mask recommendations and mandates as coronavirus cases jump. "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," Locke told his members. "I am not playing these Democrat games up in this church." Locke leads Global Vision Bible Church near Nashville, the Lexington Herald Leader reports. He promised Sunday not to close the church, as he did early in the pandemic when health officials were urging people not to gather in churches. "They will be serving Frostees in hell before we shut this place down," Locke said in his sermon.
The congregation has grown dramatically as Locke has preached that the pandemic and coronavirus vaccines are scams, per CNN. Worshippers began coming to Mount Juliet from other states to attend the social distancing-free church services. Locke said he's become even more opposed to the vaccines over the course of the pandemic. Tennessee's coronavirus vaccination rate is about 38%, per the Hill, and New York Times data show the number of confirmed cases has more than tripled in 14 weeks. On Friday, state officials reported having more than 1,000 "breakthrough" cases, in which vaccinated people test positive for the virus, and 27 COVID-19 deaths among fully vaccinated Tennessee residents, per WZTV. (Read more face masks stories.)