A controversial Tennessee pastor led a book burning to fight “demonic influences” Wednesday night, in which a mob burned copies of books, including Harry Potter and Twilight.
The burning, which was broadcast live on Facebook, followed last month’s decision by a Tennessee school district to ban the Holocaust-based graphic novel Maus.
“We know very well what we are getting into. Bring it all. Stop allowing demonic influences into your home,” Pastor and pro-Trump conspiracy theorist Greg Locke wrote in a Facebook post that has since been deleted.
“We will be part of our sequel series on Liberation From Demons. We have stuff coming from all over that we will burn. We don’t play games. Witchcraft and cursed things must disappear,” Locke wrote.
Locke’s event in the Nashville suburb of Mount Juliet drew large crowds as participants threw in copies of the Harry Potter and Twilight series and other books.
Prior to the burning, Locke said in a sermon that he was fighting the “Free Mason devils” and that “I will not kill myself any time soon.”
“I don’t mess with witches anymore, I don’t mess with witchcraft…I don’t mess with demons…I will call them all out in the name of Jesus Christ,” Locke said, as the crowd cheered and applauded in response.
According to Tyler Salinas, a photographer who attended the bonfire, one counter-protester held up copies of Fahrenheit 451 and On the Origin of Species and threw a book into the fire that he said was the Bible.
The American Library Association recently said it had seen an “unprecedented” rise in book ban requests, counting 330 books challenged as objectionable in the fall of 2021, compared to 156 in all of 2020.
“In my 20 years at ALA, I can’t recall a time when we had multiple challenges on a daily basis,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.