MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WKRN) — The pastor of a Mt. Juliet, Tennessee church has threatened to kick out members of his congregation if they show up in masks amid a nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the delta variant.
During service on Sunday, Global Vision Bible Church Pastor Greg Locke told the congregation, “Don’t believe this delta variant nonsense. Stop it! Stop it!”
“If they go through round two and you start showing up all these masks and all this nonsense, I’ll ask you to leave. I will ask you to leave. I am not playing these Democrat games up in this church. If you want to social distance, go to First Baptist Church, but don’t come to this one,” Locke continued.
The pastor added, “Bunch of pastors talking about how much they want to see people heal. They’re afraid to baptize people because of a Delta variant. I’m sick of it.”
In March 2020, during the start of the pandemic, Pastor Locke announced he had no plans to stop holding service despite a warning from Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, who had urged churches to move their services online.
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Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercy said the state had experienced a more than 200% increase in overall COVID-19 cases since July 1, averaging more than 700 new cases per day over a seven-day period, during a news briefing last week.
Piercey said 97% of all hospitalizations and more than 98% of deaths are residents who haven’t received the vaccine.
She added that more than 1,000 cases of the coronavirus had been reported in Tennessee residents who were fully vaccinated with 195 of the patients being hospitalized and 27 dying from the virus.