May 2nd, 2012
04:18 PM ET

North Carolina pastor retracts sermon remarks about punching gay kids

By Stephen Walsh, CNN

(CNN) - A Fayetteville, North Carolina, pastor has retracted controversial language used during a weekend sermon in which he instructed parents to hit children who exhibited behavior associated with homosexuality.

“I apologize to anyone I have unintentionally offended,” Sean Harris, pastor of Berean Baptist Church wrote in a statement on his church’s website. “I did not say anything to intentionally offend anyone in the LGBT community.

“My intent was to communicate the truth of the Word of God concerning marriage,” the statement continued. “My words were not scripted. It is unfortunate I was not more careful and deliberate.”

Harris’s remarks at his church came a week before the state’s voters consider an amendment to North Carolina’s constitution limiting legal unions to marriage between a man and a woman.

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"The second you see your son dropping that limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist," Harris said in the Sunday sermon. "Man up. Give him a good punch."

"You’re not going to act like that," the pastor advised parents to tell their children. "You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male.”

In an interview with the Fayetteville Observer, Harris said his comments were meant as a joke. In a video of the sermon posted online, laughter can be heard from some members of the congregation, as well as cries, of “Amen!” as the pastor spoke about responding to seemingly gay kids.

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Berean Baptist explains its stance on discipline of children on its website:

“Remembering the love and forgiveness that God has shown them, parents in turn should train their children with the purpose of reflecting the Heavenly Father to their children. Parents should consider their responsibility to be the instrument of discipline in their child’s life (Prov. 19:18). At times this may include appropriate and reasonable physical means (Prov. 10:13) employed upon the fleshy portion of the child’s buttocks (Prov. 22:15; 23:13); that this method is to be viewed as correction rather than punishment (Prov. 23:13); and that this correction will result in the child’s physical and spiritual betterment.”

Harris told the Observer that from within his church, "the response was, 'Pastor, we know you didn't mean that.'"

What do you think? Watch the above video to hear Harris’s remark and leave your comments below.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Homosexuality

soundoff (2,325 Responses)
  1. Bill

    wow. what a sad excuse for a human being. the whole lot of them are just a waste of space.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Crom

      They are taking up space and sucking up air. Time to put them some place they can't harm others.

      May 2, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
  2. Jimmy Rustles

    Religion has no place in public civil society.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • DJL

      + 1,000,000,000,000,000

      May 2, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • Dave

      Graveyards are full of people who have suffered religious persecution.

      May 2, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
  3. mark matthew luke john

    if God listens to this preacher I know she is not happy with him
    there is an old saying," God loves the children and the helpless", nowhere did I hear "bigoted idiots are loved"

    May 2, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  4. Surf_Dog

    It's morons such as this that make it abundantly clear that religion needs to be outlawed!

    This man isn't sorry that he offended people. In fact it was his explicit intent! But, what he didn't intend was for his comments to be videoed and uploaded for the whole world to see – welcome to the 21st century!

    In fact, I think this villiage idiot needs to join the 21st century, but it would seem he is content to live in the middle ages!

    Absolutly disgusting! The man is utter filth!!

    May 2, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
  5. Mario

    Churchgoers, man up. Give pastor Harris a good punch.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
  6. Thatguyisanidiot

    Unintentionally? Shows how convicted you are in your stupid beliefs moron.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  7. David Nelson

    He is probably the only pastor in America that would say something so stupid. I feel sorry for the people who had to hear it. I am sure he will do a lot of soul searching.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • DJL

      Unfortunately, that's probably not the case. Look at that other idiot in Florida, protesting gays around the country at the funerals for our fallen soldiers.

      May 2, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      You mean Westboro and the Phelps? Yea they're brand of crazy is, unfortunately, becoming more commonplace in some places.

      May 2, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • Dave

      Soul searching doesn't cure stupidity !

      May 2, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Papa Joe

      Amen LOL

      May 2, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  8. Voice of Reason

    Sean Harris Preaching

    "'Rash preaching,' said Rowland Hill, 'disgusts; timid preaching leaves poor souls fast asleep; bold preaching is the only preaching that is owned of God.' " If Pastor's preaching can be categorized with any one word, "bold" would be that word. And his boldness comes not from his self-confidence. It comes rather from his belief that consistent, expository preaching of the whole of Scripture will be used by the Spirit to draw people to the Son. And when people are drawn to the Son, they are saved, sanctified, and they become disciples and teachers themselves. Pastor takes you through the chapters of God's Word. You will learn the passage's historical intent, literal interpretation, and twenty-first century application. He strives to teach God's Word accurately and clearly, and he strives to preach God's Word boldly.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • MandoZink

      That is possibly one of the saddest things I've ever read here – mainly because you're serious.

      May 2, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Voice of Reason


      I am not saying this, this is part of his bio.

      May 2, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Mario

      You are kidding, right?

      May 2, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • ramblerkat

      Very well put.

      May 2, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • Maya

      Prove it. Oh right, you CAN'T.

      May 2, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • ramblerkat

      Very well put. I have mixed feelings on this one. I understand where you are coming from yet I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to avoid doing intentional harm. Mental harm is still harm. hmmm

      May 2, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      I'm an atheist that merely posted what is on the church's website for this Sean Harris guy, this is part of his bio.

      May 2, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Observer

      God said to kill anyone working on the Sabbath. If he's so bold, he should be standing up for what God said.

      May 2, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • footballsux

      The Reverend Fred Phelps sez to Voice of Reason:

      "You know what, douchnozzle? I can divine by your sentence structure that you are effeminate, and require severe discipline! HEAR ME OR BE DAMNED!"

      Still no comment from Rick Santorum.

      May 2, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • Crom

      Voice of Reason, you need to work on how you format that stuff.
      Use spaces, use quotes, symbols, html tags, anything to help people who go blowing past your post at 83 mph.
      You've got scroll wheel skid marks on your face because they couldn't see you were quoting someone else.

      May 2, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
  9. Gary in Tampa

    Lots of laughter from the congregation after he said to punch your kid if he might be gay. These people are sickos.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
  10. Voice of Reason

    Sean Harris Childhood

    Pastor Sean grew up in a blended family first in Massachusetts and then in the hills of West Virginia with three brothers and a sister. It was in a tiny town in West Virginia that Sean saw his father acknowledge the truth that Jesus is the Christ. While living in a house with no running water and a wood burning stove for heat and cooking Sean's family began attending a charismatic Baptist church and it was in this church that a son saw his father converted. The conversion was instantaneous and had a tremendous impact on the entire family. The father’s conversion led to the son’s conversion and Sean was baptized in a creek in Lindside, West Virginia just across the way from the church. Later his father attended Great Lakes Bible College in Lansing, Michigan and pastored several churches in Michigan, West Virginia and Virginia until God took him home. Seeing his father come to Jesus had a profound impact in Sean’s confidence in the power of the gospel to radically change lives. Unfortunately Pastor also personally witnessed impact of divorce. And then later the impact liberal theology had on his father’s life and this has deeply impacted his desire to fight for the faith once delivered for tomorrow’s generation.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Gary in Tampa

      Dude- this is no "voice of Reason"- it's the voice of hate. I might just drive up to Fayetville NC and punch this pastor in the nose myslef like he advises his congergants to do to their children. Then we'll see how "manly" he is.

      May 2, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Gary in Tampa

      This is part of his bio, I'm just posting for all to see who this nutzo is.

      May 2, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • George

      Gary in Tampa- 'hate'?// I love that word- fits everything we don't like without thought. Now, we live in a 'kinder' time (as evidenced by all these well thought out and loving posts) and it is not looked upon to be aggressive toward one another (as also demonstrated here) and certaily we should not be physical (we can't be here- good thing) but some of us have lived during a time when punishment for all kinds of things were normal daily treatment. So, reading this article caused me to laugh over the things I used to get cuffed alongside the head over. Now, I cannot blame religion or this man for what he says- that may be his experience and we do not know what his experiences have been but it is our responsibility to determine if we should follow his advice or not. Pretty much that simple. So, sorry folks, I find the story a throuwback to times I look back on fondly and I just have to laugh at the story and the reaction to it becasue everything I read tells me nothing has really changed- we are all just as bad, or good, as this guy in our own way.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
  11. Dean

    I don't know if I am more offended by this hateful man and his message or the parishioners shouting "Amen". You don't need the bible to justify love...but there is no better book if you need to justify hate.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
  12. tnfreethinker

    You can't beat the gay out of a kid. It's ridiculous. All this man is doing is justifying hate and promoting child abuse and bullying. Shame on this awful person.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
  13. Voice of Reason

    Sean Harris Conversion

    When were you saved? It was on a Monday or Tuesday night and I was nine or ten years old. Dad and I were attending a revival meeting at another church in Lindside, West Virginia. I seem to recall it was a Baptist or Pentecostal church, but I am not sure. Like most churches in WV, I recall it was on the side of a hill. It was a small church, with hard wood pews, in two rows, and I remember there was a wood burning stove on the left front side of the church right in the main room. The evangelist was preaching on hell and I recall not wanting to go to hell. I have no recollection of what I said, whether I prayed or not, or just what happened. I just know that I responded to the invitation that night. The preacher dealt with me and my life has not been the same since. Shortly, thereafter I was baptized in a creek about a ½ mile from the church where my father was converted. I was baptized again, as an adult, to gain membership in a strict Baptist church in Lawton, OK, but neither baptisms have any bearing on my salvation.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • Bob

      Who cares about your holier than thou bullpoop? The man was intensely wrong and your trying to prop him up makes you just as sickening!

      May 2, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Voice of Reason


      I am merely posting what is in his bio, nothing more. I am an atheist.

      May 2, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • Crom

      I can't believe you made the same mistake three times on this page alone. *facepalm*

      May 2, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  14. brian

    funny how many parents take their children to be brainwashed at the same places they were

    May 2, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  15. Celina

    Take out radical Christians like we took out Al Qaeda, this is a war against radical theism.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  16. brian

    christians are insane. they don't even practice what the bible says. intolerance, hatred, violence, etc. eradicate religion is a good starting point for the evolution and progress of mankind. it does nothing positive except provide a false sense of hope and comfort. faith does not equal fact and it neve will.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • Maya

      Apparently, you have never read the Bible. Intolerance and hatred are pretty strongly featured. The funny part is that this pastor IS preaching what the Bible says. The Bible is just pure f***ing evil.

      May 2, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  17. footballsux

    This just in:

    Jerry Sandusky sez, "I agree 100% with Pastor Whatzizname, and that Dr. Dobson guy. If your son starts acting like a 'fruit,', DEMAND that he play football. If it wasn't for this damned house arrest, I would gladly volunteer to coach your pansy kid."

    Former Presidential Hopefull and Penn State Alum Rick Santorum was unavailabel for comment.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  18. sean50

    I guess if you have a limp brain, you should get a crack in the head.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  19. effelbee

    Ah, a true conservative Christian-my way is the only way.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
  20. Jesusisnotpleased

    I listened. I heard a man shouting out stereotypes and revulsion toward gays and especially toward children who don't fit his version of masculinity and femininity. He is unfit to lead a congregation and especially to tell parents how they should treat their kids.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.