When a conservative evangelical pastor in Tennessee received a book form an atheist lawyer with a highly offensive inscription that called the pastor a “wife beater” and “homophobic bigot” because he is a Christian, the pastor caused a social media sensation by burning the book on video.
The book, The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American, was published in May and written by Andrew Seidel, a constitutional attorney who works at the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF).
It was Seidel himself who sent his own book to Pastor Greg Locke, who founded the Global Vision Bible Church in Mount Juliet, Tenn. Seidel saw fit to add the abusive handwritten note on the title page.
The video of the burning had amassed more than 81,000 views on Twitter and nearly 87,000 views on Facebook as of Oct. 24. It followed a long exchange on Twitter between Locke and Seidel over a recent FFRF advertisement.
“I was just making my point that any history of America that would exclude God or the Bible or a pastor’s viewpoint is just really ridiculous,” Locke told Religion News Service, about the video.
“They’re doing everything they can to scrub God from the history books. It was almost as if I was saying, ‘Because you guys have decided to burn the truth of history with your revisionism, I’ll burn this book and show you what nonsense it is.’”
The 30-second commercial on separation of church and state aired during the CNN Democratic presidential debate and featured former President Ronald Reagan’s son Ron Reagan declaring himself a “lifelong atheist.”
Locke answered the ad with a tweet saying it was “further proof that this party HATES GOD” and claiming that the FRFF “LIED about our Founding Fathers.” When Seidel responded by offering to send the pastor a copy of his book, which attempts to argue that the religious beliefs of the Founding Fathers are irrelevant to the country’s political philosophy, Locke responded that he might sign it himself and send it back to Seidel.
Locke set the book on fire in a two-minute-long video describing atheism as “one of the fastest growing religions in the world” and claiming the book “is not factual.”
“An atheist writing the history of America is like Planned Parenthood writing a manual on how to take care of infants,” he said in the video. “There is no history of America without God.”
In the video, Locke also read out the inscription Seidel had handwritten in the copy he sent Locke, urging the pastor to “read something other than your bible. Life is too good to waste on bad ideas.”
Locke, told Religion News Service that Seidel’s inscription was “trashy.”