By Sarah K. Burris
Churches and religious institutions like Liberty University are often able to skirt their support of a political party by welcoming a politician to speak from the pulpit or speak about what they say are "Christian values."
But when Tennessee Pastor Greg Locke attacked Democrats from his church stage, one religious freedom group says he crossed a line.
"If you vote Democrat, I don’t even want you around this church,” the witch-hunting pastor told the crowd of the Global Vision Bible Church earlier this month. "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."
He moved on to attack President Joe Biden, citing language often used by former President Donald Trump. Locke then attacked former President Barack Obama, claiming he is behind all of America's problems.
He went on to speculate the Buffalo shooting had nothing to do with race, despite the shooter's manifesto being clear on the topic. Finally, he warned his parishioners about demons and witchcraft.
Now a letter written to the IRS by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State says that Locke also "clearly told his congregants to vote against the Democrats, from the pulpit of his church," which they said "violates the law and we ask for an investigation into Locke’s conduct under 26 U.S.C. § 7611."
The law makes it clear that no non-profit that is tax-exempt can “[d]irectly or indirectly  participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office."
Locke is no stranger to controversy, and in the past year he's claimed that an "anointing oil" can cure psychological disorders and has ordered his church not to wear masks or get vaccinated against COVID-19. He was banned from Twitter in February. That same month he held a literal book burning.