FFRF kicked off in Nashville a national billboard campaign in September targeting what FFRF calls “irresponsible megapreachers.”
The 14-by-48-foot billboards, in a stained-glass-window motif, gave the advice to “Sleep in on Sunday” and “Enjoy life now — there is no afterlife.”
The eye-catching billboards were on I-24 West, west of Briley Parkway, and on Lebanon Road, a mile east of Andrew Jackson Parkway. They went up in early September and were up for a full month. The billboard messages were directed at megachurch pastors Kent Christmas of Regeneration Nashville, and Greg Locke of Global Vision Bible Church, and, of course, their flocks.
Locke is the incendiary preacher who has perpetuated QAnon conspiracy myths and has castigated the pope, Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks. He has called President Biden “demon-possessed,” Vice President Kamala Harris a “jezebel demon” and claimed they oversee “child-trafficking” tunnels underneath the White House. Locke termed Donald Trump the “legitimate” leader of the United States in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election. Most concerningly, the pastor was in the mob outside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection, praying with a bullhorn — and hyped the riot ahead of time. After the riot, he was banned by social media. Unfortunately, Locke remains influential, with more than 2 million followers on Facebook.
Kent Christmas, who is founding pastor of Regeneration Nashville and heads Kent Christmas Ministries International, has likewise insisted that Trump won the presidential election, and that the presidential race was “a war between heaven and hell.” Christmas, who is stridently opposed to abortion and gay rights, and routinely spouts off about “demons” and “sin,” claims to be a prophet of doom.
In its billboard campaign, FFRF advised the good folks of Nashville to ignore these figures.
“It would be far better to sleep in on Sunday — or commune with nature or volunteer to help someone — than to waste time getting infected with disinformation by either of these blowhards,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. “The only afterlife that ought to concern any of us is leaving our descendants and planet a secure and pleasant future.”
Locke recorded a video of himself burning a copy of the book, The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American, written by Andrew L. Seidel, FFRF’s director of strategic response. “America would be kinder, healthier and happier if fewer people listened to Locke and more listened to their conscience. Don’t waste another minute swallowing the hate spewed by these peddlers of outrage,” says Seidel. “Take a nap instead.”
Gaylor notes that the “truly good news” is that church attendance in the United States is dropping off precipitously, with less than half of Americans claiming to belong to a church, synagogue or mosque, down from 70 percent church membership in 1999.
Similar billboard messages from FFRF will soon be aimed at Houston megapreacher Joel Osteen.