A far-right pastor hosted a book burning event, encouraging parishioners to toss books like “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” into a fire to denounce what he described as “demonic” materials.
Greg Locke, head pastor at Global Vision Bible Church, held a book burning event Wednesday night, and urged followers to burn “evil garbage” like young adult fantasy books, tarot cards, “voodoo dolls and crystals.”
“Bring all your Harry Potter stuff. Laugh all you want haters. I don’t care. IT’S WITCHCRAFT 100 PERCENT,” Locke said in an Instagram post Monday. “All you ‘Twilight’ books and movies. That mess is full of spells, demonism, shape-shifting and occultism.”
In a video livestreamed on Facebook, churchgoers hurl books and other items deemed associated with “witchcraft” into a massive bonfire on the church’s parking lot in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. The burning begins about an hour into the livestream.
At least one counterprotester claimed to throw a Bible into the flames, Nashville Scene reported.
“We have a constitutional right and a Biblical right to do what we’re going to do tonight,” Locke said in the livestreamed video. “We have a burn permit, but even without one a church has a religious right to burn occultic materials that they deem are a threat to their religious rights and freedoms and belief systems.”
This is not the first time Locke has made headlines. The pastor has been permanently banned from Twitter for spreading Covid vaccine misinformation. He previously described the vaccine as “sugar water” and said that he’d turn away churchgoers if they wore masks to his services. He also criticized Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee as a “coward...noodle...waffler” for signing an executive order that would allow the National Guard to assist overwhelmed hospitals during a Covid outbreak. Locke claimed that children with autism are possessed by demons, insisting that the diagnosis doesn’t exist in the Bible.
On Twitter, users raised concerns about the event. Some drew similarities between the book burning at Global Vision Bible Church and the ones held in Germany during the Nazi regime.
Locke’s book burning event comes amid a growing effort to ban certain books from schools. Books about racism and sexuality are being pulled from Texas school shelves in record numbers — a majority of books targeted feature LGBTQ characters or explicit descriptions of sex. Some of the books that aren’t explicit include picture books about Black historical figures and transgender children.
Last month, a Tennessee school board voted to remove “Maus,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust, from its eighth-grade reading list over profanity and nudity.
This story first appeared on NBCNews.com.