Additionally, the pastor has been outspoken regarding church lockdowns during the pandemic, mask mandates, and vaccination requirements.
In January, Locke also received considerable blowback after characterizing children with autism as demonized.
“Do not jump up right now and rebuke me for what I’m about to say,” Locke said. “But I read the Bible too much to worry about what you think. Did you know on three occasions kids were brought to Jesus—not of their own will or of their own volition but by their parents—that had epileptic fits. Anger issues. Outburst of emotion. And because we’ve called it possession, parents refuse to deal with it.”
“Are you telling me my kid is possessed,” the pastor rhetorically asked. “No! I’m telling you your kid could be demonized and attacked, but your doctor calls it autism.” Knowing that his words wouldn’t be taken well, he told the congregation, “I don’t care if you leave or not. I’m telling you there’s deliverance in the name of Jesus Christ for your children and their children’s children.”
“Ain’t no such diagnosis [as autism] in the Bible,” Locke said. “Jesus cast out that oppressing spirit and the child was made whole that very hour, the Bible said.”
“There’s a lot in the Bible about spirit oppression that we just overlook because it’s uncomfortable,” Locke continued. “The Holy Spirit indwells the holy, holy of our body, but there are still demonizing spirits that try to destroy the work of the Spirit within us. And because we don’t recognize that, the church is in a floundering mess of no victory in America.”
Even while months have passed since Locke’s comments regarding autism, many have not forgotten. One comment on Locke’s Instagram post about auctioning his truck for charity blasted him, saying, “Making fun of autistic children and calling them demons…I think it’s safe to say you’re not getting into heaven bestie.”
Another chimed in, “Stop attacking people with autism.” Someone else called Locke a false prophet. Nevertheless, the pastor has made it clear several times that he’s “not backing down or going away.”