In a speech he delivered at a dinner for the New Hampshire GOP on June 3, former vice president Mike Pence mentioned the January 6 Capitol riot and observed that he and former president Donald Trump still do not “see eye to eye” on what happened that day. Shortly after the speech, Pastor Greg Locke tweeted that Pence is a “Judas.”
“January 6 was a dark day in the history of the United States nation’s Capitol, but thanks to the swift action of the Capitol police and federal law enforcement, violence was quelled,” said Mike Pence at the annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner hosted by the Hillsborough County Republicans in Manchester, N.H. “The Capitol was secured. And that same day we reconvened the Congress and did our duty under the Constitution and the laws of the United States.”
Pence continued, “You know, President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office. And I don’t know if we’ll ever see eye to eye on that day. But I will always be proud of what we accomplished for the American people over the last four years.”
“Mike Pence is a Judas,” Pastor Greg Locke of Global Vision Bible Church in Mount Juliet, Tenn., tweeted later that evening. In doing so, he echoed a troubling sentiment that seems to persist among some Americans, including some who move in evangelical circles.
Pastor Greg Locke Repeats Disturbing Sentiments
“I’m a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order,” said Mike Pence at the beginning of a speech that was unabashedly supportive of former President Trump and critical of President Biden. Pence praised what he referred to as “four years of consequence,” of “results,” and of “promises made and promises kept.” He talked at length about what he views as the Trump administration’s accomplishments and the Biden administration’s failures.
It was toward the end of his speech that Pence said, “We’ve all been through a lot over the past year,” and specifically mentioned the “tragedy at our nation’s Capitol.” The former vice president indeed went “through a lot” on January 6, as it was his responsibility to oversee the counting of the electoral college votes during a joint session of Congress and to then declare Biden president. This Pence eventually did, despite being delayed by the day’s violence.
Prior to that day, Trump had called the results of the November 2020 presidential election into question and pressured Pence not to follow through on declaring Biden the winner. At a Trump rally that took place before the violence at the Capitol, the former president said, “Mike Pence, I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country. And if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you.”
Protestors at the rally eventually marched to the Capitol, where rioters stormed the building as the joint session of Congress was taking place. Some of the rioters constructed a gallows and chanted, “Hang Mike Pence.” The phrase, “Hang Mike Pence,” later trended on Twitter. When Pence did not comply with Trump’s wishes, Trump attacked him for lacking “the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution.” As a result, some Americans have come to view Pence as a traitor.
There is doubt that the pastor who called Pence, “Judas,” is a controversial figure. In his Easter sermon, Pastor Greg Locke told his congregation to “take them stupid masks off.” On Sunday, May 30, Right Wing Watch posted a clip on Twitter of Locke’s sermon from earlier that day in which the pastor insisted that Trump was still president and also repeated parts of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Locke responded to the tweet, saying, “I STAND BY EVERY WORD OF IT.”
However, while Greg Locke is a controversial church leader, he is also an influential one. He has nearly 100,000 followers on Twitter and has over two million followers on Facebook. Perhaps more troubling is the fact that his tweet calling Pence “Judas” echoes quite a few responses Franklin Graham received when he requested prayer for the former vice president on April 15.
At the time, Pence was recovering from surgery after having a pacemaker implanted. “I know that he, Karen, and their family would appreciate your prayers,” said Graham on social media platforms, including Gab and Twitter. “He told me this evening that he is on the mend and God is good!”
Some of the responses, particularly on Gab, were chilling. One user called Pence, “Judas,” another, “traitor.” Yet another said, “True, God is good. He’s given the Americans a second chance to see Traitor Pence prosecuted and hung.”