A church-state watchdog group is asking the IRS to investigate a sermon in which Pastor Greg Locke allegedly said Christians cannot vote Democrat.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a complaint with the IRS this week, saying Locke's sermon at Global Vision Bible Church of Mount Juliet, Tennessee, on Sunday violated the Johnson Amendment, The Christian Post reports.
"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," the complaint said.
In his sermon, Locke called Democrats "God-denying demons that butcher babies and hate this nation."
He said this week, however, he didn't think the IRS would investigate.
"I'm not going to stop speaking the truth," said Locke. "I don't really care what the AU thinks, and I stand by my statements. I do not believe you can be a biblical Christian and vote Democrat in this culture in which we live."
Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United, said the group had previously criticized Locke.
"Several folks alerted us to a video of his Sunday sermon that violated the Johnson Amendment on social media, but we've been aware of Pastor Locke's inflammatory rhetoric for several years," said Laser.
She also claimed that Locke prayed for the Proud Boys the night of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
"In 2019, he burned a book written by Andrew L. Seidel, our VP of Strategic Communications. And as Americans United was working during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure public health orders were applied equally to religious and secular organizations, Pastor Locke's refusal to allow his church to follow health guidelines such as social distancing and mask-wearing was well known," she said.
According to the Johnson Amendment nonprofits are prohibited from engaging in partisan political activism if they want to maintain a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Brian A. Jackson
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.