A gay man counter-protesting an anti-LGBTQ pastor’s book-burning event burned a Bible and kissed his husband while repeatedly screaming “Hail, Satan!” at disgusted onlookers.
“It took [my husband] shouting ‘I Burned a Bible’ several times before they stopped cheering and realized they’d been had — they aggressively threw us out but we had a change to disgust them with a kiss before we left,” Chris Hardin wrote in the description of a video, recorded at the book burning and uploaded to YouTube.
The book burning, held on Feb. 2, was organized by Greg Locke, an anti-LGBTQ, anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist and Trump-supporting Christian nationalist who serves as pastor of Global Vision Bible Church in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. Locke called for the event in order to “purge ‘demonic influences’ from the homes of his parishioners, reports Nashville Scene.
Locke encouraged attendees to burn various books, including the Harry Potter and Twilight series, as well as Ouija boards, tarot cards, and healing crystals, Disney products, and “anything tied to the Masonic Lodge,” which Locke refers to as a “Satanic cult.”
“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 on Jan. 31. “All you ‘Twilight’ books and movies. That mess is full of spells, demonism, shape-shifting and occultism.”
In video of the event taken just before the bonfire is sparked, Locke was recorded saying: “We have a constitutional right and a Biblical right to do what we’re going to do tonight. 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.”
But Hardin’s husband, who is not identified by name, decided to make a statement exposing the flawed rationale of book burners. In the video, he can be seen throwing a book on the fire as the crowd cheers. But he continues to shout, “I just burned a Bible!” adding: “Keeping my copy of Darwin’s Origin of Species and Fahrenheit 451!’
He also repeatedly yelled: “Hail Satan! Hail to his strength and power!”
The crowd, then realizing what just happened, began booing Hardin’s husband, and began pushing him and Hardin, who was filming on his phone, out of the bonfire circle.
“In the name of Jesus Christ, you shall be saved,” a man in the crowd shouts, while another tells Hardin’s husband: “Get out of here, buddy.”
At one point, someone yelled that they “rebuked” Hardin’s husband, to which he responded: “And I’m immune to your rebuke! Hail Satan!”
The video shows Hardin and his husband getting in their car as an angry crowd follows them, and people in the crowd screaming in disgust at the moment the two share a kiss, yelling “Hail, Satan!” as they drive off.
Commenters on YouTube upvoted and praised Hardin and his husband for their actions.
“That moment when they finally understood what you were saying. Priceless,” wrote one user.
“Honestly, regardless of however you feel about this move, that guy has balls of steel and is very brave for doing that,” added another.
“As a former Mount Juliet resident, I want to hug both of you for doing this. Locke is an absolute ninny. Have had the displeasure of encountering the man as my mother went to his church. Absolute heroes, both of you. Thank you, wrote a third.
The book burning comes at a time when book banning has become popular on both the left and the right. On the left, works have been banned for racial or cultural insensitivity, the use of racist epithets in historical fiction works dealing with the treatment of Black characters, such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, plots that involve “white savior” characters, such as To Kill a Mockingbird, or books written by authors or prominent figures who have been “canceled” for their allegedly offensive views or personal behavior.
On the right, conservatives, empowered by recent election victories at the state, local, and school board levels — often cheered on by Republican politicians and pastors of evangelical churches — are pushing for books with what they deem as “objectionable content” — including nudity, sexually-related topics, any works having to do with LGBTQ issues, race-related issues, or any content that can make someone “uncomfortable” or that doesn’t adhere to a Biblical worldview — to be burned or banned, not only in school libraries, but public libraries.
In Tennessee, much of the book-burning fervor seems to be coming from the political Right. Last month, the school board in Tennessee’s McMinn County voted to remove Maus, a graphic memoir about the Holocaust, in which Jews are portrayed as mice and Nazis as cats, from the eighth-grade English Language Arts curriculum about the Holocaust, due to concerns over swear words and images of naked dead bodies in the graphic novel.
Last year, Tennessee lawmakers passed a bill that would ban books with LGBTQ-related content. That bill is currently being reviewed before heading to the Senate. And this year, lawmakers are considering a bill that would yank books deemed “obscene” or “harmful to minors” from school libraries, with critics saying that the measure will invariably — and perhaps, even disproportionately — target LGBTQ books or books written by LGBTQ authors.
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!