SNOHOMISH — Parking lots were filled for more than a block, and pleasantries were exchanged as people of all ages entered a Snohomish church Wednesday night. Masks were few and far between.
Hundreds of people filed into The House Ministry Center to hear from Pastor Greg Locke.
Locke has a widespread online presence with more than 2 million followers on Facebook. He’s been outspoken about his resistance to wear a mask amid the pandemic. His church is Global Vision Bible Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee.
Locke has called face coverings a “device of mass control,” and questions how effective they are. He also is vocal about his support for President Donald Trump.
Locke’s Wednesday night address did not appear to be streamed online. No protesters were near the church.
Earlier in the day, Locke posted a link to an article from The Daily Herald after he talked to the newspaper on Tuesday. Those commenting on Locke’s Twitter post varied from adoring to scathing.
“Jesus loves the Anti-Mask preacher,” wrote one.
“Blessings my brother! Go get ‘em,” wrote another.
“The Anti-Mask grifter,” wrote one critic.
“Their lives are in your hands ‘Pastor,’” wrote another. “One day you’ll be held accountable to God for your decisions.”
For his part, Locke wrote: “See you tonight Washington. The ‘Anti-Mask Preacher’. Hahaha.”
Locke has around 67,200 followers on the social media website.
A day before, on Tuesday, Locke posted a video on Facebook where he said all churches should open, no matter the size.
He bashed those who believe opening is dangerous, including church leaders.
“Let me tell you what’s dangerous,” he said. “It’s dangerous for these mamby-pamby pastors to use out of context bible verses to tell people ‘It’s OK, let’s just worship online, it’s OK, just stay home, it’s only going to be a couple of weeks.’ That was months ago ladies and gentlemen, and we’re still trying to ‘slow the spread’ over something that’s not spreading at all. The numbers are going up and the death rate is going down. I’m telling you we’ve been lied to, we’ve been duped, we’ve been deceived. Open the churches.”
The Snohomish Health District reached out to the church ahead of the Wednesday service. Officials urged attendees to wear masks and keep six feet away from others.
Locke travels the country often. He is scheduled to appear at Deschutes River Ranch in Olympia on Thursday.
Stephanie Davey: 425-339-3192; email@example.com; Twitter: @stephrdavey.