MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WKRN) — The pastor of a Mt. Juliet church has threatened to kick out members of his congregation if they show up in masks amid a nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the delta variant.

During service on Sunday at Global Vision Bible Church, Pastor Greg Locke told the crowd, “Don’t believe this delta variant nonsense. Stop it! Stop it!”

Locke said, “If they go through round two and you start showing up in all these masks and all this nonsense, I’ll ask you to leave. I will ask you to leave. I am not playing these Democrat games up in this church. If you want to social distance, go to First Baptist Church, but don’t come to this one.”

“Bunch of pastors talking about how much they want to see people heal. They’re afraid to baptize people because of a delta variant. I’m sick of it,” the pastor added.

During the start of the pandemic in March 2020, Pastor Locke announced he had no plans to stop holding service despite a warning from Gov. Bill Lee, who had urged churches to move their services online.

During a news briefing last week, Dr. Lisa Piercey, the commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Health, said the state had experienced a more than 200% increase in overall COVID-19 cases since July 1, averaging more than 700 new cases per day over a seven-day period.

Piercey said 97% of all COVID hospitalizations and more than 98% of deaths are residents who have not received the vaccine.

She added that more than 1,000 cases of the coronavirus had been reported in Tennessee residents who were fully vaccinated with 195 of the patients being hospitalized and 27 dying from the virus.