You may be familiar with Tennessee pastor Greg Locke from his various headline-making crusades over the years. From speaking out against rapper Lil Nas X and his ‘Satan Shoes’, to burning scores of Harry Potter books in a giant bonfire, Locke isn't exactly afraid of the spotlight.
Well, the controversial pastor was in the news again recently when he threatened to expose six witches that he says have infiltrated his church (and even joined his wife's Bible study group!).
“You know who you are,” he warned the alleged witches. “And we [are] going to ask you to get out, or I’ll expose you in front of everybody.”
Apparently, the witches didn't take kindly to such aggression.
Less than a month after that sermon, Pastor Locke is now complaining that he’s been besieged by unholy threats from witches far and wide: from nasty messages on his church answering machine, to call-outs on social media, to receiving sex toys in the mail.
Wait, what was that last one? Let's back up a bit.
This all started when Pastor Locke took to the pulpit last month and announced a startling revelation: witches had infiltrated the church.
“We got first and last names of six witches that are in our church,” the controversial pastor warned. “Three of you are in the room right now.” Locke continued:
“You were sent to this church to destroy us. You were sent to this church to lure us in. You were sent to this church to cast a spell… Two of you in my wife’s ladies’ Bible study. And you know who you are, and we going to ask you to get out, or I’ll expose you in front of everybody. You better look in my eyeballs right now, we ain’t afraid of you, you stinking witch! You devil worshiping, Satanist witch! We cast you out in the name of Jesus Christ!”
The sermon went viral, drawing widespread mockery online for Pastor Locke’s fear of witches that seems straight out of 17th-century Massachusetts. Here's an abbreviated version we posted on our Twitter page:
Now, a month later, Pastor Locke says witches are harassing him at home, at work, and even at his favorite coffee shop. And they’re getting, how shall we put this… creative in their approach.
“We’ve been getting, literally, sex toys in the mail every single day,” said Pastor Locke in a Facebook Live update on the harassment he says he’s been receiving ever since calling out the six witches he says were plaguing his congregation.
“Glitter bombs from witches,” he continued. “Crystals and hexes and vexes and curses… We get pentagrams, witchcraft, Satanism, postcards from the Church of Satan in the mail, every single day, all types of foul pornographic stuff. It’s just nonstop.”
It’s not just sex toys. He says his staff receives hundreds – sometimes even thousands – of phone calls per day, the voicemail filling up every couple of hours as critics leave expletive-laden messages.
And in a particularly overt attack, witches apparently contacted management at Locke’s favorite Dunkin’ Donuts coffee shop in an attempt to get him banned from getting his morning coffee.
How to Respond
If our Facebook page is anything to go by, it’s clear that there’s no love lost between many of our ministers and Pastor Locke. But when we asked our followers on Facebook how he should be responded to, responses were torn on whether he deserved the harassment or not.
"Honestly, the women he threatened to out as witches should be pleased and proud. What they're doing in their lives has threatened a tiny, fearful man, which means they must be doing something right," one commenter said.
"He's trying to start an actual witch hunt. this is beyond simply disagreeing with someone," another wrote.
Not everyone agreed, however.
"Speech and religious expression are both protected rights. Attacking or otherwise attempting to silence someone else's based on perceived harm that it does or may yet do to others is a slippery slope that many including the current powers that be have already started down using the often ambiguous misnomer of "hate speech" for anything they disagree with regardless of actual fact or fiction. This needs to stop on all sides," someone else chimed in.
On the one hand, Locke appears to be encouraging retaliation against witches, which many say is not only offensive but potentially dangerous to Wiccans and Pagans. So who cares if someone sends him a glitter bomb?
On the other, critics point out that intolerance gets us nowhere, and harassment isn’t an effective strategy for winning an argument.
What do you think? How should we engage with those with whom we disagree?