Pastor Who Called Democrats 'Demons' Claims He Gave Up Tax-Exempt Status

A right-wing Tennessee pastor who said Democrats could not be Christians due to the party's pro-abortion rights stance has claimed he has given up his tax-exempt status.

Pastor Greg Locke, of Mt. Juliet's Global Vision Bible Church, near Nashville, previously told his congregation that he considered Democrats to be "baby butchers."

He said earlier this month: "You cannot be a Christian and vote Democrat in this nation. I don't care how mad that makes you. You can get as p***ed off as you want to. You cannot be a Christian and vote Democrat in this nation. They are God-denying demons that butcher babies and hate this nation."

Following his comments, the religious advocacy group Americans United For Separation of Church and State (AUSCS) said the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) needed to investigate Locke and determine whether he had made partisan political remarks.

Photo of Pastor Greg Locke
Pastor Greg Locke of Global Vision Bible Church claims he has given up tax-exempt status for the church after calling Democrats "demons." Above, Locke holds services in the church parking lot on March 29, 2020, in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. Getty

The AUSCS said Locke's comments violated the Johnson Amendment that prevents houses of worship from opposing political parties or endorsing candidates.

A May 14, letter sent to the IRS by AUSCS attorney, Ian Smith read: "Though Locke stated he was not a 'full-fledged Republican,' he clearly told his congregants to vote against the Democrats, from the pulpit of his church. This violates the law and we ask for an investigation into Locke's conduct under 26 U.S.C. § 7611."

But in a live stream uploaded on Facebook on Sunday, Locke claimed he had renounced his tax-exempt status and said he still held the same views about Democrats.

He added: "Guess what I did this week. I got an attorney and I dissolved our stinking 501c3 in this church because the Government ain't gonna tell me what I can and what I can't say. So, IRS we don't need your stupid tax-exempt status. You can put it in a bag and burn it in your front yard for all we care. I renounced 501c3 communism in this church."

Newsweek reached out to the Global Vision Bible Church and the AUSCS for comment.

Locke has previously made headlines over his incendiary comments, including threatening to expose members of his church for being "witches." In January, Locke organized a burning of Harry Potter and Twilight books as well as other items at the church.

The controversial pastor also called President Joe Biden the "real virus in this country" during the COVID-19 pandemic and said that only "crack-smoking, demon-possessed leftists" believed he won the 2020 election over Donald Trump. He also vowed to remove anyone from his church who wore a face mask due to concern about their health during the pandemic.