A far-right evangelical Christian pastor has left people outraged after claiming that children with autism are possessed by demons.
Tennessee pastor Greg Locke made the claim in a sermon in which he compared autism to stories of people healed by Jesus Christ of "fits" and "outbursts" in the Bible due to demonic possession.
He went on to warn parents that "no such diagnosis" as autism exists in the Bible. See his comments below. Be forewarned that his words may be disturbing.
Locke began his comments by imploring his congregation to not "jump up right now and rebuke me for what I’m about to say,” a sure sign that he shouldn't have said it. Unfortunately, he forged ahead anyway.
"On three occasions, kids were brought to Jesus... by their parents that had epileptic fits, anger issues, outbursts of emotion… And because we called it ‘possession,’ parents refused to deal with it."
Locke then clarified his meaning, which only made things worse.
"'Are you telling me my kid’s possessed?' No — I’m telling your kid has been demonized and attacked, but your doctor calls it autism."
First of all, doctors call autism "autism" because it's autism, not demonic possession. Autism spectrum disorders can also be detected in children as young as 18 months, and Locke's assertion that a baby could be possessed by Satan is not only absurd and anti-scientific but also abhorrent.
Unsurprisingly, Locke also seemed totally ignorant of the fact that autism spectrum disorders frequently do not even include anger issues or outbursts of emotion among their symptoms and manifestations.
Nor did he seem to know that "epileptic fits," more commonly called "seizures" by people with even a basic sense of decency, are symptoms of epilepsy, which is an entirely different condition from autism.
Nor did it seem to occur to him that the reason epilepsy was called demonic possession in the Bible is because they didn't know that epilepsy existed.
Locke went on to once again essentially admit that he knew what he was saying was abhorrent, telling his congregants he didn't care if they were offended.
"I don’t care if you stand or not, I don’t care if you leave or not. I tell you, there’s deliverance in the name of Jesus Christ for your children, and their children’s children!”
On Twitter, Locke's cartoonishly vile and ignorant comments left people outraged--including several people dealing with autism spectrum disorders themselves.
Locke, a Trump supporter permanently banned from Twitter for spreading COVID-19 conspiracy theories, seems to have a bit of an obsession with Satanism, having claimed in 2020 that the Democratic Party's logo contains a Satanic pentagram. (It does not, for the record.)