Popular internet preacher and lead pastor of Global Vision Bible Church in Tennessee, Greg Locke, who insists his church will stay open during the coronavirus pandemic, said Facebook removed his post about this Sunday's service, accusing it of “promoting a crime.”
“I’m beyond fired up at this point.!!! Y’all need to WAKE UP. Facebook removed my service announcement post and said to keep the church open was promoting a crime. WE ARE NOT CLOSING!!!” Locke declared in a tweet Friday.
The tweet contained a screenshot of a notice that appears to be from Facebook warning him that a post promoting a gathering at his church on Sunday was harmful, saying: “Your post goes against our Community Standards on coordinating harm and promoting crime.”
The Trump administration recently issued guidelines recommending that social gatherings include no more than 10 people to promote social distancing to help stop or slow down the spread of the virus and allow the health care system to more readily care for patients over time.
“It seems like every single day the government is giving us new mandates and suggestions from 100 people gathering to 50 people gathering to 10 people gathering and it’s all about social distancing. You know, sometimes pastors have some very difficult decisions to make on behalf of their sheep and their church. Our church is going to respond in a way that I realize many people are going to be critical of. We have to do what we feel is in the greater context and demographic of our local church,” Locke began.
“A lot of churches are closing up their doors during the coronavirus scare. And I get it. It’s a difficult decision. We’re online, they’re online, a lot of people are watching as livestreams are growing in abundance and I’m grateful for that outreach in the kingdom. However, here at Global Vision, we do not believe that it is going to fit the context of who we are to close our services. We will continue to livestream but we are going, not in defiance, not in rebellion, we are going to remain open,” he said.
“We just recently had a tornado that ravaged through our city. We’ve been a 24-hour distribution center, people still sleeping in the building even to this day. So we’re not trying to be those that push back, and in your face and abrasive. We will never shame any pastor or any congregation that feels the need to stop their services for now. But we don’t want to be shamed for staying open,” he added.
He said the church has masks, hand sanitizers stations and they have extra cleaners coming into the building to help limit the spread of the virus. He also urged at-risk groups and people who are not comfortable with his position on gathering to engage with his church online.
“If you are sick, if you are elderly, if you have children and if you do not feel the need to get out, no judgement whatsoever,” he said.
“You can stay home and watch the livestream. We get it and we understand. … We are not going to give in to the chaos, we are not going to fold to the fear. The Lord has not given us a spirit of fear,” he said.