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On Sunday, Christian hate-preacher Greg Locke, last seen on this site conducting a literal witch-hunt among his Global Vision Bible Church congregation, told his circus tent church that they had an obligation, as Christians, to vote for Republicans, in direct violation of IRS rules. He then looked into the camera, presumably to his critics, and told them they “ain’t seen” an insurrection yet.

… I’m to the place right now, if you vote Democrat, I don’t even want you around this church. You can get out. You can get out, you demon. You can get out, you baby-butchering election thief. You cannot be a Christian and vote Democrat in this nation. I don’t care how mad that makes you. You [can] get as pissed off as you want to. You cannot be a Christian and vote Democrat in this nation… They hate this nation!You cannot be a Democrat and a Christian. You cannot. Somebody say “Amen.” The rest of you get out! Get out! Get out in the name of Jesus...

… Everyone wanna talk about the insurrection? Mmmm. Let me tell you something: You ain’t seen the insurrection yet. You keep on pushing our buttons, you low-down, sorry compromisers, you God-hating Communists, maybe you’ll find out what an insurrection is…

There are so many problems with this sermon excerpts, it’s tough to know where to begin, but the first thing that came to mind was that a Muslim leader could never get away with speaking like this without a full-throated condemnation from political leaders. So far, it’s been mostly silence from elected officials.

It’s also a weird claim because there are plenty of Christians who vote for Democrats. I know Locke doesn’t think they’re True Christians™, but there are a lot of Christians who vote for Democrats. 40% of Protestants voted for Joe Biden in 2020. 49% of Catholics did the same. (Even 15% of white evangelicals voted for Biden.) In other words, tens of millions of Bible-believing Christians found a way to reconcile their faith with their Democratic vote. Either they’re all hypocrites or the religion isn’t tied to one party.

Obviously, Locke thinks they’re all hypocrites. He believes all True Christians™ must share his brand of anti-LGBTQ, anti-women, anti-science, pro-conspiracy views. If you agree with him 99% of the time, you’re no longer a Christian. You’re a demon-possessed heretic.

But even if you want to make the argument that the Republican Party represents Christian values, so it makes sense for Christians to support Republican candidates, that also falls apart upon closer inspection. If you believe yourself to be “pro-life” and want to reduce the number of abortions, then voting for Democrats who do more to address the root causes for abortions is the way to go. If you believe God created this world, and that it’s important to protect God’s creation, then it’s easy to justify voting for Democrats since they’re the ones who take climate change seriously. (At least compared to the main alternative.) If you care about helping the “least of these” like marginalized communities, the same thing applies. It’s easy to reconcile Christianity with progressive politics… if you want to make that case.

The overgeneralization of Christians isn’t the big problem here, though. The bigger concern is that a Christian preacher running a non-profit church used his pulpit to tell the congregation how to vote. It’s something that’s explicitly forbidden by the IRS. Any group has the right to tell people who to vote for, but they shouldn’t also be allowed to maintain tax-exempt status. It’s one or the other. (This rule is more commonly known as the “Johnson Amendment.”)

That’s why there were plenty of complaints online yesterday demanding the IRS take some kind of action against Locke and his church. It culminated in an actual demand that the IRS investigate this church from Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

AU sent a letter to the IRS’ “Exempt Organizations Examinations” division and asked them to look into this “likely violation of the federal law barring tax-exempt nonprofit entities from intervening in partisan elections.”

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…

Will they actually investigate? Who knows.

Will they take action? Doubtful, no matter what they say to the contrary. As the Washington Post noted in 2016, “more than 2,000 mainly evangelical Christian clergy have deliberately violated the law since 2008 as a form of protest against it; only one has been audited by the IRS, and none punished.”

Locke’s comments about the insurrection are also eyebrow-raising because he was at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Last August, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol sent a record request to the National Archives asking for “all documents and communications” concerning the 2020 elections and a handful of people. Their list included Greg Locke. (Locke has repeatedly said that while he was at the rally preceding the insurrection attempt, he never went inside the Capitol. There’s no evidence suggesting otherwise.)

Interestingly enough on the same day Locke gave that sermon, megachurch leader John Hagee, a fellow Christian nationalist based in Texas, also told his congregation how to vote:

The IRS should revoke the tax exemptions for both churches. Neither of them deserves it. While non-profit leaders across the country bend over backwards to avoid even the hint of telling their members how to vote, guys like Locke and Hagee blatantly violate the rule because they believe they’re above the law.

Unless the IRS takes action, conservative Christians like them will never stop.

Hemant Mehta is the founder of FriendlyAtheist.com, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.