Pastor Greg Locke, who has gained notoriety over the past two years for spreading COVID misinformation, is now claiming that children with autism are actually just possessed by demons.

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“Do not jump up right now and rebuke me for what I’m about to say,” he implored his congregation recently. “On three occasions, kids were brought to Jesus. Not of their own will, of their own volition, but by their parents. [Kids] that had epileptic fits, anger issues, outbursts of emotion. And because we called it ‘possession,’ parents refused to deal with it.”

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If a man in a tent tells you your child is possessed by a demon just because they’re still struggling to learn to cope with strong emotions, ignoring that advice actually seems like a pretty sound parenting strategy. But Locke has a different perspective, and continued digging himself deeper into the depths of an absurd religious conspiracy theory.

“I’m telling you your kid could be demonized and attacked, but your doctor calls it autism,” he said, as those gathered applauded and cheered.

“I don’t care if you stand or not. 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!” he screeched, jumping up and down. “Ain’t no such diagnosis in the Bible!”

Locke is right on one point — autism isn’t named in the Christian Bible. Nor are most diseases or hoards of other things that exist today. But just because something isn’t mentioned in a religious text doesn’t mean it’s made up by doctors to cover up demonic possession.

That shouldn’t be a controversial statement, but the religious extremism in the United States that has been upping its attempts to discredit modern medicine in the past several years (although the idea of doing so certainly isn’t new) has widened the divide between those who believe in science and those who believe God alone can heal, or that ailments are a result of moral decay.

Still, people were ready to point out the atrocities of Locke’s statements, once again.

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And while most people can see Locke’s claims as ridiculous, they still cause damage.

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Locke has since doubled down, claiming that his comments were “blown out of context” and that “baby-butchering, Planned Parenthood abortion-lovers” had no right to comment on anything he said about children.

But ultimately, he just chalked the whole controversy up to God’s plan, and suggested that everyone who takes issue with him claiming autism is actually demonic possession is possessed themselves.

“I had no idea that people who be so mad that I started preaching about demons,” he said. “And I think it’s the Spirit stirring up the spirits that are within them.”

I guess claiming everyone who criticizes you is possessed is as good a defense as any when you’ve already got a crowd of people brainwashed into believing anything you say. 

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*First Published: January 27, 2022, 9:56 am