Preacher Greg Locke likes to claim he takes the Bible literally. He also seems to have a bit of a literal interpretation of what it means that the Barbie movie was a smash hit.
The fundamentalist pastor near Nashville, Tennessee, gained notoriety in recent years by defying COVID-19 public health measures and becoming a regular preacher at the MAGA worship services known as the ReAwaken America Tour. In a sermon over the summer, he held up a Bible he had duct-taped and zip-tied around the end of a baseball bat. It was rolled on so tight it almost looked like a weight that baseball players put on during practice swings before walking up to home plate. He so deformed the Bible that it was beyond recognition as a book.
Over on the side of the stage sat a Barbie doll Dreamhouse, though he left unsaid whether he bought it for the service or he commandeered some child’s toy. Like every cheesy Christian movie, you know where this is headed.
Holding his Frankenbiblebat, Locke read 2 Corinthians 10:4 — in the King James of course — about how “the weapons of our warfare” are “mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.” He added about the verse, “It means you demolish the house that the evil spirit left when you kicked it out!” After shouting that “the stronghold comes down when you demolish it with the Bible,” he violently swung the bat to repeatedly bash the Bible onto the Barbie dreamhouse. The congregation cheered and applauded as plastic bits flew around the stage.
“You got to get in the Bible and beat that stronghold to death,” he added after victoriously tossing his bat — and the Bible being held hostage — like he had just hit a homerun.
Locke had started his odd sermon illustration by holding up the bat and declaring about the thing wrapped around it: “That is a Bible.” And he suggested they “start selling some biblebats in the name of Jesus” in the church’s store. While it was technically a Bible, it was really just a prop. He wasn’t treating it like a sacred text. He wasn’t treating it like a book he believed offered insights into knowing God and living a more fulfilled life.
Even his metaphor didn’t actually work. Because it wasn’t really the Bible demolishing the Barbie dreamhouse. It was the bat. In fact, the bat could’ve destroyed the dollhouse more effectively without the padding wrapped around it. So technically the Bible made it less of a weapon and less mighty for tearing down an alleged stronghold (emphasis on alleged). Rather than a Bible destroying the stronghold, we saw a wild man using a bat to destroy a dollhouse and a Bible.
That’s what happens when we treat the Bible as a prop. And it’s a common problem that can be found far beyond the sermons of a MAGAchurch preacher. So this issue of A Public Witness opens up the book on other examples in faith, business, and politics of profaning the Bible by treating it like a prop.
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