A Mt. Juliet pastor's rant about Target's much publicized bathroom policy has gone viral with over 14.2 million hits since he posted it Friday.
Known for his passionate online videos about real-time controversial issues, Pastor Greg Locke is used to being in the spotlight and refuses to "cave" into pressure to be politically correct.
His latest video is about Target's decision to be "inclusive" for transgender people and their right to use the in-store restroom of their choice.
In the video Locke blasts Target officials and says they've "lost your ever-loving mind" in their political correctness. And, he says, the policy doesn't target transgenders, but "perverts and pedophiles," the "people who are going to harm our children."
Tuesday morning Locke explained how the video came to be.
"I went to the Mt. Juliet Target Friday evening, so they could help me understand their bathroom policy," he said.
Basically, he noted he'd heard so much about the new inclusivity policy in the 48 hours before, he wanted to hear it from the horse's mouth, so to speak, to make sure he got it right.
"I wanted to hear it myself, right there, about what thousands were boycotting," he said. "I went right there and found a manager. I basically asked straight up what their policy was."
Locke said the manager told him, "Basically, there's a new law passed and because of it you can use the restroom that you self-identify with. I said, 'Let's be clear, right now I could go into the woman's bathroom without any problem?' and she told me 'yes.'"
Both in his video and Tuesday morning, Locke said only .03 percent of the population are transgenders. He said the policy change was "ignorantly naive."
"Hashtag, Target missed the mark, this was a dumb move," Locke said.
Locke noted he was "not concerned" with transgenders "molesting folks," but rather, "perverts" taking advantage of the policy.
"They are trying to make it like they are catering to transgenders," Locke said Tuesday. "There is no reason to change laws or policies for .03 percent of the population ... transgenders have been around for years. Just leave the bathroom policy alone."
While Locke noted on a "moral and Biblical standpoint," he does not support the LBGT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community, he said the video was about a "safety concern."
On Wednesday, Locke will take part in a two-hour interview on American Family Radio. AFR started an online petition last week urging people to boycott Target because of their inclusivity policy. As of Tuesday, there were over 600,000 signatures.
Locke said he feels other businesses are waiting to see the "fall out" of Target's stance and believes Target will take a "big hit" as a result of their stated policy.
On April 19, Target posted a "Continuing to stand for inclusivity" statement on their website.
"Recent debate around proposed laws in several states has reignited a national conversation around inclusivity. So earlier this week, we reiterated with our team members where Target stands and how our beliefs are brought to life in how we serve our guests," the statement reads. "We believe that everyone--every team member, every guest, and every community--deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally. Consistent with this belief, Target supports the federal Equality Act, which provides protections to LGBT individuals, and opposes action that enables discrimination."
The statement concludes, "...Given the specific questions these legislative proposals raised about how we manage our fitting rooms and restrooms, we felt it was important to state our position...Everyone deserves to feel like they belong. And you'll always be accepted, respected and welcomed at Target."
When asked if anyone from the Target organization has contacted him about his video, Locke only said, "I've heard they basically think I'm a bigot."
Locke said he's had a "lot of hate" as the result of this latest video, and earlier ones, but also "a lot of love and support."
So much so, his church, which he founded in August 2015 with about 220 congregants, has more than doubled to 450 regular members. Located on Old Lebanon Dirt Road, the church recently "paid cash" for adjoining acreage and a house for expansion, and they recently added a third service.
"I call it a 'common sense approach' to the Bible," Locke said of his preaching style. "It's simple, I don't cut corners, I'm upfront and I think people, even if some don't agree, appreciate someone who sticks their neck out and tells it like it is."
Because of backlash from some of his outspoken opinions, Locke said he's been threatened plenty of times. Because of this, they've "beefed up security" during services.
Many of Locke's videos have gone viral of late. The first one was his stance on Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, the retired Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete. Many of the "rants" are politically inspired and also cover a myriad of pop culture subjects as well. Locke said his Facebook page has exploded to 730,000 likes.