A book on fire on the ground
Texas Pastor Greg Locke burned a book about atheism on video, hoping to send a message to his critics. But by some accounts, the move backfired.

An online feud between an attorney representing the Freedom For Religion Foundation (FFRF) and an outspoken Texas pastor escalated this week when the pastor posted a book-burning video to his official Twitter account.

Pastor Greg Locke filmed the video in response to FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel, who had sent him a signed copy of The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American, a book authored by Seidel.

Locke gives a brief explanation of the feud, compares an atheist writing about American history to “Planned Parenthood writing a manual on how to take care of infants,” and finally lights the book on fire using a blowtorch:

How Did We Get Here?

This conflict apparently all started when Pastor Locke took offense to a FFRF commercial which aired during one of the Democratic presidential debates. He responded online, claiming the ad was “further proof that this party HATES GOD” and that it lied about the Founding Fathers supporting the separation of church and state.

In response, Andrew Seidel offered to send him a copy of the book. Siedel following through on this promise, even including a personalized inscription for Pastor Locke. It reportedly read, in part: “Let go of your hatred and fear. There is no god, and that’s ok. This is not a Christian nation, and that’s a good thing. Be better. Read something other than your bible. Life is too good to waste on bad ideas.”

Patheos blogger Hemant Mehta reached out to Seidel for comment after the video was released. The author responded:

I’m disappointed this preacher chose to burn my book, The Founding Myth, instead of read it. Locke fails to understand something that FDR explained some 80 years ago: “Books can not be killed by fire.” Those who burn books are incapable of dealing with the ideas in those books. Nazis, totalitarians, authoritarians, theocrats, and Christian Nationalists. Locke may have burned a copy of The Founding Myth, but really he admitted that he cannot comprehend the basic history and facts in the book. He wanted to project strength, but instead, he showed true weakness.

In a bit of an ironic twist, sales for Seidel’s book reportedly spiked following the video’s release. It seems Pastor Locke’s bold statement didn’t quite have its intended effect.

Is America a Christian Nation?

Let’s take a step back. At the core of this conflagration is a disagreement over religion’s role in the United States – both at the time of the founding and today. What are we to make of the argument that America is a Christian nation?

The Founding Fathers were, for the most part, of the Christian faith. But as we’ve discussed on this forum before, it’s a bit more complicated than that. These men may have been religious, but their belief system actually had very little in common with modern Christianity – particularly its more nationalistic and fundamentalist aspects. And they certainly understood the dangers of a government choosing a single religion as the “right” one to practice.

So, while the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin would perhaps be unlikely to write the forward to Seidel’s book, they may have agreed with parts of it – and most certainly wouldn’t condone burning the text in the name of Jesus.

58 comments

  1. Kathleen Baird says:

    Thomas Jefferson’s quote on the necessary powers of the government he helped to create…..
    “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

    1. Carrie says:

      The problem seems to be that it might make them think! That is a bad thing to those who have been completely brainwashed….they are much more comfortable not having to think for themselves..that might lead to doubt!

      1. Lori says:

        Amen! With a touch of Blessed Be!

        1. Kathleen Baird says:

          Blessed Be! to you, too.
          Merry Meet & Merry Part.

          1. Lori says:

            and Merry Meet again

    2. Gerald DeCaire says:

      I think there’s an implicit suggestion here that we must choose between whether or not we believe in God or we believe the founding fathers were not Christian. That is a bogus choice. You can believe in a God and at the same time believe this country was not founded on Christian beliefs. For one, most of the founding fathers were deists, not Christian, Jewish, Muslim or anything else. For example, Jefferson had huge criticisms of the Bible, which he thought was mostly a barbaric book, and redacted it into, what is referred to as, the Jeffersonian Bible. Jefferson only included the biblical passages he deemed truly loving and reasonable and even helpful, and he ended up with an end product not much thicker than a comic book. Most of the founding fathers only had a certain loathing for the Bible and negatively critiqued it on numerous occasions. These are the facts and the pastor here is wrong. He’s only confidently making unsubstantiated assertions which to too many appears to be a good argument but in truth, other than insults, he’s saying absolutely nothing. I, for one, confidently believe there is a God but also know the constitution and the founding fathers had little to no support for any particular faith. And that’s a good thing because this country is made up of a plethora of faiths or non faiths. Anything less than that would be a theocratic state forcing everyone to believe a certain way. We’ve already gone down that road and left behind us a bloody swath that began in Europe and even reached many other continents. The founding fathers understood this and they wanted a fresh start in America that was free from prejudices and unnecessary violence and bloodshed. The Christian right is presently trying to upturn the lesson learned so long ago in order to turn this into another antiquated theocratic nation-state. I’m sure the motivation behind that is psychological. People who think differently from them make them feel threatened. They need a global consensus on all beliefs in general to feel safe. And they’ll make other human’s worlds unsafe, even to the point of death, to get what they want. It’s a prevailing sickness in our country and may prove the end of us.

    3. Kenneth Tapfar says:

      Amen. Where are the minds that are free to think as they wish, worship as they wish, or not worship at all? They are being drowned out by ignorance and bias, and those attempting to force their views upon others had better be ready with a good hiding place if their Biblical version of a judgement day is true.

  2. Lionheart says:

    An excellent example of a religious idiot. I bet he was one of those who burned Beatles records because John Lennon spoke the truth saying they were more popular than Jesus at the time.

    🦁♥️

    1. JT says:

      Seriously, and exactly how do you know that? Is it too much to expect reasoned, well articulated comments, thoughts and arguments? Apparently, or at least from everyone. I notice you post frequently, and too frequently with little-to-no value added.

      1. Lionheart says:

        How do I know what, JT? The religious idiot text, or the John Lennon test?

        🦁❤️

        1. JT says:

          Thank you – so much! – for proving my point. You failed, deliberately and miserably, to answer my questions(s) – because you have no cogent answer(s). I know too well the “answer a question with a question” approach (the last refuge of a scoundrel). Do you understand (doubtful!) that this exchange is severely damaging any credibility (which I suspect is minimal to non-existent) you may have? I doubt it …

          1. Lionheart says:

            Ok boys, drop your fishing poles and come over this side of the boat. Help me reel this one in.

            Wow! Look at it! I think its a rare species of Unintelligensis. Yep, it is! Look, It’s part of the Hagfish family, which is a common Tunicate in the fish world, its even created a word that doesn’t exist “questions(s)”. Shall we throw it back boys?

            🦁♥️

          2. JT says:

            Sorry for the typo. Others, meanwhile, need to brush up on their grammar, specifically: (1) the difference between and correct usage of “its” vs. “it’s”; (2) it’s (notice the correct grammar) “tunicate” not “Tunicate”; (3) it’s (once again, the correct grammar) ‘hagfish’ not ‘Hagfish’; and, (4) it’s (third time’s a charm?) “it’s” not “It’s”. Then again, if randomly capitalizing words was the goal … great job!

          3. Rev. Brien says:

            Lionheart, you simply cannot fix stupid. I try to ignore stupid, kind of like ignoring a house fly. Eventually you will swat it, but your day does not revolve around it. As for you JT, the use of the term stupid refers to you. Just as long as we are clear on that. Peace to you friend Lionheart. 👍

          4. Lionheart says:

            Thank you Rev Brien. I think the decision is to knock it on its head and put it out of its misery, and even throw it back. By its continual floundering, and notice he’s still doing it, it’s obviously a Flounder. Those are a demersal flat fish, found at the bottom of the oceans, much like bottom feeders, which of course, in the case, is very apt.

            🦁♥️

          5. Lionheart says:

            We all make literary mistakes. Let he who is without literary sin cast the first tome 🤪

            🦁♥️

      2. ET says:

        I agree with most of 🦁♥️‘s posts, but could support him more if he could refrain from name-calling (the “idiot” remark).

        1. Lionheart says:

          My apologies ET….I got too carried away. You are right, there has to be a better word than idiot. I’m struggling to find one, but I’m sure there is.

          How about “Religious naughty person”? I think that tones it down a bit. 🤗

          Peace ✌🏻

          🦁♥️

          1. Lori says:

            Lion, It’s hard to bring others to consider your point of view when your view comes out as a form of instability. But if you’re simply entertaining the troops, knock yourself out.

          2. Lionheart says:

            You’re right Lori, I’l try and be a bit more stable. 🤪

            Many of my comments are meant to be tongue-in-cheek remarks that some take too seriously, unless I’m replying to a die-hard indoctrinated religionist telling me to come unto Jesus or I’m going to hell, pointing out chapter and verse from his old book of tales and myth. I then get on my crusade!

            🦁♥️

          3. Lori says:

            Never fear Lion. The LORD will forgive you. LOL Sometimes we just need to blow off a little steam. It gets to me too. Sorry for getting picky. I’ve come to realize no matter how you phrase it you can’t win, but by expressing how you feel helps to clarifies your own truth. The more they put out the verses, the farther away we get for them and disrespect all that they stand for.

          4. Lionheart says:

            Awe…thank you Lori.

            Me thinks it’s time for a skyclad ritual, being as its close to Samhain, with cake and ale. 😇

            To the woods! To the woods!

            Blessed be!

            🦁♥️

          5. Lori says:

            Woo Hoo!!!!!! Can I wear just my hat and sneakers? That would be quite a sight.

          6. Pastor Brian says:

            The egregious mental masturbation is absolutely delicious. Thanks everybody!

      3. Oh Mo says:

        Seriously – I lived through the Beatles and know their statement concerning their popularity is factual. Nope, and his thoughts and comments (he wasn’t arguing) were reasoned and well articulated.

        Value is subjective, so your jaundiced view of his value pretty much says it all concerning you and yours. Instead of trying to pick a fight, why not comment on the story? Oh, wait, you’d rather pretend you’re the god of message forums. Hint – you’re not.

    2. Carrie says:

      These people are deluded fools. Life is so much easier when you don’t have to think. They think of themselves as sheep, and Jesus is the shepherd….problem is that shepherds would fleece the flock, and kill them, not only to thin them out but for food… mmmmm, maybe the religion is based on vampirism?

      1. Randy C Hamilton says:

        Good one, Carrie.Many a time I have heard of JC described as a “Jewish Zombie.” T Jefferson wrote in 1797 “… the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” It appears as part of the Treaty of Tripoli which the Senate ratified unanimously. The modern religionist congress persons ignore this and you may have observed them in interviews on tv saying the opposite. Then of course Bush said that god speaks through him. If I said that I’d get locked up in an asylum.

        1. Randy C Hamilton says:

          Some say Adams, not Jefferson. I’ve seen it both ways and have yet to confirm it. BUT IT STILL STANDS. READ THE TREATY.

  3. Russ Parish says:

    The organization that Mr. Seidel represents is the Freedom FROM Religion Foundation. I just want the correct name to be stated. It is a non-profit organization that advocates for non-theism. They often speak out when they feel religion encroaches into public places, such as state capitols and public schools. Some may think they go too far, but certainly this organization is no threat to organized religion in this country.

    1. Lori says:

      I am a spirit centered person, but I have no doubt that this country needs a Freedom From Religion Foundation. It keeps dominant religions from oppressing others. And actually, the percentage of people with no religion are right on the heels of the pew people. Check it out! The threat is very real and will soon overtake the pew people. The christians better hide their bibles. Someone may set them on fire.

      1. Russ Parish says:

        Lori, when I used the term “no threat,” I was thinking that those who are religious, particularly those in majority religions, have no worry for their personal safety from FFRF. I agree that the Nones are gaining in popularity and nipping at the heels of organized religion. This is exactly why folks like the good pastor got out his blowtorch. A zealot is a zealot, whether a religious one or an anti-religious one. Truth is found in diversity, compromise, acceptance and respect.

  4. Dan Atatakai says:

    Greg – You need to learn your history, young man. It appears, going on a lot of your other videos and what you have claimed with them, that you need to learn some more issues with your own theology. I suggest two adult education classes: a) US History, and b) Comparative World Religions.

  5. David Ciambrone says:

    Another book burning fool. It is ministers like him who make others look bad.

  6. John Eftimiades says:

    So does anyone believe he actually read the book. He won’t admit it, but he has lived his entire life in fear. I am sure the manner in which he was raised has contributed greatly to his inflexibility. When I see and hear people like this I often think of the Amish. As most people are aware, when Amish teenagers come of age (18 or so), they get to go out into the real world for a couple of weeks and then come back and decide if they want to join the church and make a commitment to live out their lives as Amish. What most people don’t know is that if they choose to leave the Amish life they are considered pariah by their own family and everyone else.Can you imagine? They are no longer welcomed and are forever cutoff. So with their eight grade education and the thought of forever loosing all their loving contacts is it any wonder that 90% of the youth make the decision to live the Amish life.

    What would have happened to Greg Locke if he came home one day and said I don’t want to go to Sunday school, I don’t believe in all that made up nonsense by people who were afraid of the dark. Again I believe he comes from a world of fear and insecurity. He thinks as he does because it is all he has ever known.

  7. Alicia says:

    No books should be banned or burned. There’s a lot to learn in books, whether you agree with the subject or not. If you don’t like the topic of a book, don’t ban it so no one else can read it, just don’t read it yourself. That’s not really difficult.

    This country is made up of millions of people…not all of whom are Christian. Don’t the non-Christians have the same rights to their beliefs? Doesn’t everyone, no matter what they believe, have the right to read whatever they want? Stop imposing your views on others.

    1. Lionheart says:

      Good point’s Alicia. I wish my mother understood that philosophy when she found my Playboy magazines when I was a young teenager 🤪

      🦁♥️

  8. The Doctor says:

    Ah book burning. A time honored tradition of the zealots of the religious would be dictators of humanity. Imagine all the mayan texts burned by the inquisition, all the ancient greek and roman texts of science and medicine. Oh and lets not forget the Nazi, who burned everything that did not line up with their mad fake scientific idea of genetic superiority. Or the fact they did not burn bibles so as to not force the Pope into condemning nazi germany.

    The thing Thomas Jefferson never counted on when it came to the religious was that with their program of selective education and programming them into mindless little soldiers of god another inquisition could arise. Had Jeffersons plan to make education including going to universities free and for all people we might not have gotten so very close to this edge where such a time of terror could arise again

  9. Secretary3rd says:

    In 1776 the only true religion in its colonizes was the Church of England. Any other branches were consider not Christian. Ben Franklin with his lighting rod cause him to be curse by both the Church of England and any other off branch because it took away that if your house was struck by lighting then you sin against God.
    Once anything above the clouds was Heaven and thing below the ground was Hell. If you got sick and die it was because it was the Will of God.
    If this preacher wants to see what God did not make or created just look around. His video camera is not a product of God. That propane touch was not a product of God. The cell phone is not of God. Nor would be the computer.
    More of what God did not make surrounds him then what he says is God creation.
    He has his minutes of fame and the world will soon forget his YouTube video.

  10. Rod Gesner says:

    The Simple Problem with “Simple Minds” is What I Call “? Willful Ignorance”
    ie.. To Chose Not to Learn anything that Conflicts with ones Belief System…
    The Xtian or Muslim Zealots Are Stuck in The Remote Past 2,000 yrs more or Less;
    or worse for the Old Testament followers…
    Their Refusal To Evolve or recognize any Science That Explains or Contradicts The Myths That Control them;
    is What Leaves hem Behind both Spiritually and and Scientifically.
    Then We have the Modern Socialmedia/TVRadio Spun ZealotsWhile They May Think They are Learning??
    But Most times They are merely Reinforcing their beliefs they already hold or being Fed Repeated Lies That Pound away at their Reality;
    But are Easier to Believe;
    and
    Lets them HATE and BLAME Strangers than to Take Responsibility for making the world a Better Place..

    No Rational Thinker would Burn a Bible; What a Waste!
    The Extra Thin Paper ones make of Good Rolling or Wiping Papers 😉

  11. Deborah Alexander-Gioello says:

    I chose pagan spirituality over Christian religiosity after an upbringing in which fear of eternal fires of damnation was the ruling factor. Hatred was not part of the equation, the way it seems to be today. I tried for many years to identify with Christianity, becoming more miserable as time passed. No one has the right to tell us our belief/unbelief is wrong. And, certainly no one has the right to force their beliefs on any of us. What disturbs me so much about “Christianity” is that those who identify themselves as such, seem to ignore the Gospels, and the purported teachings and world view of the Jesus they claim to follow. Do they love their enemies and neighbors (all humanity), themselves, and their God? Do they turn the other cheek, instead of clamoring for vengeance and punishment? Where is their mercy and forgiveness, acceptance of others of fellow humans, their compassion and care for the poor, sick/afflicted, the very old and the very young, the stranger in a strange land? Why do they feel that love of money and power, as well as judgement and condemnation of others is compatible with Christianity? Every atheist, pagan, and even Satanist, I know has more respect for the dignity and wellbeing of others and our Earth than most self-professed Christians. I am not judging; I am confounded. I grieve for those who are so filled with fear and hatred.

  12. tom b says:

    Respectfully…designating Christianity as the national religion for America would be little different than certain countries have done by designating Islam and Sharia…this is not what the Founding Fathers wished and died for…Peace…Tom B

  13. Dorothy says:

    Hitler burned books too.

  14. JG says:

    “…the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…” John Adams

    There is more to the quote, essentially speaking to the fact that religious opinion should never interfere with relations with other nations.

    “The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohameddan (Muslim) nation.” John Adams.

    I have no doubt that there are those that will take exception to this. I’m not telling you to put down your bibles. I’m not trying to belittle anyone’s religious (or otherwise) beliefs. But if you are indeed the proud American citizens you claim to be, I am suggesting you take time to learn the facts of our history, not just the propaganda.

    Freedom of religion includes ALL religions, not just the one any particular group or individual thinks is the right one. The United States of America is not now, nor has it ever been, a Christian nation. Furthermore, church and state were kept separate for reasons that are just as valid now as they were then.

  15. Wendy Marie Fernandez says:

    Let me start by saying that I love God and ha e a very close relationship with him but people in general get too caught up in these man made religions and don’t realize that Hod does not judge anyone based on what religion they choose. What matters is how you develop your closeness to Him.

    1. Lionheart says:

      Statements like this always make me smile, though I know you mean well, so bless your heart.

      I feel I need to say it though, until there is demonstrable evidence a god, any god, exists you are basically saying that you have a very close relationship with an imaginary being, and that what matters is how you develop your closeness to this imaginary invisibility being.

      I only mention this because you state that what matters is that we need to develop a closeness to a god, which I disagree with, for the reason stated.

      🦁❤️

      1. Anna Brown says:

        Totally agree. I have FB friends with whom I engage and I don’t understand this “relationship” they have with a god. I have relationships with friends and family. I see them, touch/hug them, talk with them. How can you do that with an imaginary invisible being that is only in your head/imagination?

        1. Lionheart says:

          Schizophrenia changes how you think, feel, and act. It might affect you differently from someone else.

          Men often show these symptoms earlier than women. Oftentimes there is a gradual change in the person before obvious symptoms start. This is sometimes called the prodrome phase.

          People with schizophrenia might hear, see, or feel things no one else does.The person most often hears voices in their head.

          Religious delusions: Someone might think they have a special relationship with a deity or that they’re possessed by a demon.

          This extract is taken form WebMD

          🦁♥️

  16. Clarke Alexander says:

    “Christians” it seems do not believe in abortion but where are they when the unwanted baby is born? How come they are not standing in line to adopt the children that they want to force the woman to have?

    1. Tom B says:

      Clarke…exactly right…hypocrisy at the highest level; the nurturing of children…Peace…Tom B

  17. Bill says:

    Somebody, I can’t remember who, said, to the effect of: “Wherever they burn books, they will one day burn human beings.”

  18. Wes says:

    “Where one burns books, there one eventually burns people.”

    ― Heinrich Heine

    Keep going and soon we’ll be organizing bible burnings. Bibliolotry is dangerous lunacy.

  19. Bob Velasquez says:

    More divisive garbage should not be tolerated. Not in my book! It’s just too much.

  20. Jim says:

    I seldom post on here because, generally what I see are people who are supposed to have some type of stance on religion, being juvenile toward one another. Are there no adults left who would rather carry on an intelligent debate / conversation about an issue? Religion is every person’s right to believe, or not, without being targeted as some type of super villain. We are most certainly a country based on religious freedoms, that includes freedom from religion, which is why we have to maintain separation of church and state at all costs. I am a man of faith but, I also have knowledge of science, therefore I also believe that evolution has played a significant role in how we have arrived to this point in time. It is not for me to decide for another person, what they should or should not believe, we have those wars playing out in Russia, and most of the middle east nations. Regardless of your take on God, Gods, or nothing, we should be able to agree on the fact that if we cannot pull together to save this nation, then we will all suffer the consequences. (by we, I mean whatever generation (s) ultimately pay the price). I am not an English major, never could stand all of the rules for writing, if you find mistakes, try to find the meaning in the words and not the mistakes in the text as the message.

  21. David says:

    I just bought the book, too! It’s rated 5 stars on Amazon and Audible. The notion that the Founders believed in modern Evangelical Xtianity is simply absurd. Just read their writings, and you will find none of the fundamentalist teachings. But of course, those who are brainwashed cannot think for themselves.

  22. Albert A Hernandez says:

    The purpose of the Christian minister is to bring souls to “salvation,” not to impose his religion or faith on others. Pastor Locke’s burning of the atheist book is merely a symbolic expression of those who are going to burn in hell because of their unbelief and rejection of God. Yes, there is a “God” and a “hell.” While we have the freedom to believe, or not to believe, we are never free to escape the consequences of our choices and actions. By the way, the Constitution of the United States is NOT absolute, and not all Americans are Christians. Our greatest enemies are those that do not believe in God, and those of other religions that are not in concert with the Scriptures. Because whether we know it or not, we are in a spiritual war between good and evil. And all this jargon that is going on about God and religion is just that—-jargon. STOP it! You are condemning your own souls.

    “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” (Matthew 7:6).

    Albert A. Hernandez, D. Div., Ph. D.

    1. Don says:

      You will find most of the ministers here do not believe in your god, or any god that condones the rape and murder of children (Numbers 31:17-21)
      So please, kindly take your veiled threats of damnation and shove them where the sun doesn’t shine.
      Thanks so much.

    2. Lori says:

      “Our greatest enemies are those that do not believe in God, and those of other religions that are not in concert with the scriptures. Because we are in a spiritual war between good and evil.”
      This is quite a statement. You do realize you are on a spiritually universal site? Why are you here if your only wish is to put up walls. We are people of many faiths and, whether you know it or not, YOURS is not the one and only way to God. This division is a very sad thing. You really don’t get that this kind of preaching pushes people away. YOU are not bringing anyone to “God”. The only thing you are accomplishing here is to connect to those who are already like you….and there are a few. Your words and scriptures just cause division. You don’t understand what good and evil is. There are sooooo many wonderful people who do wonderful things in this world……and they’re not Christian! You live in a very small mind. God is soooooo much greater than that!

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