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. fistface

    Again.. a year or so from now.. give.. or take.. you will probably see this same guy involved in some scandal between him and another man/men.... If this man would have spewed any of this nonsense in any spiritual gathering I would have attended, I would have stood up and chewed him a new ass.. and I encourage everyone in America to start speaking up in like fashion. Especially towards your crooked politicians.. they are just as bad if not worse...

    May 2, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
  2. mandarax

    Wow, I had only read the article before I posted the previous comment. Now that I've seen the video I'm outraged. This guys a real scu.mbag. And the people laughing and calling out "Amen!"?" What a stinking load of excrement they amount to.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
  3. JennyTX

    Isn't religion great???

    May 2, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • n8263


      May 2, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • Dude Looks Like A Laity

      It's like a dried turd on a bad stretch of road.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  4. Socrates

    This pastor remind me those criminals who are in court an d say: I am so sorry, I didn't mean to kill him. God is watching you, Pastor and certainly he is not going to open the door of heaven to you. You are going to another place, very hot.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • Dude Looks Like A Laity

      Yes, right about now he is God's biggest disappointment.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  5. amh

    oopps! Sometimes you actually slip up and say exactly what you are thinking. Kind of hard to hide who you really are when you get diarrhea of the mouth in public...

    May 2, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
  6. mandarax

    The messed up thing is that he only said he never meant to offend anyone in the gay community. He advocated child abuse, intolerance, bullying, and se.xism in one sentence – I would hope that the offended parties extend far beyond one particular group. We should all be offended.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • bpsf

      How is it people like this end up representing Christians? How do they think this is the word of Jesus?

      May 2, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • mandarax

      No offense, but it's not too out of line with what is said in the Bible. The Bible is absolutely wrong about it, but that's what it says.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • Dude Looks Like A Laity

      Mandarax..what are you talking about? The Bible does not condone acts of child abuse and Jesus did not promote violence as a path to heaven. You sound like you belong to his congre-GAY-tion. recommnend you get a tutor to help you read the bible.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • mandarax

      "The Bible does not condone acts of child abuse and Jesus did not promote violence as a path to heaven."

      Never actually read the bible, have you?

      May 2, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
  7. Panda Express

    hehe I smell a hate crime 😉

    May 2, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  8. sybaris

    Religion.......the ultimate ponzi scheme

    May 2, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • Rep


      May 2, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
  9. Atheist

    This kind of strict dicipline that conservatives advocate is the reason why the world is so F'd up.

    Atticus Finch is an example of a perfect parent, in my opinion. He doesn't use physical punishment. He teaches his children by example. He talks to them like adults, and leads them to not just know right and wrong, but to understand right and wrong. He teaches reciprocity and empathy for others. He isn't concerned that Scout dresses and acts like a tomboy, for those things, to Atticus, are merely superficial. He's only concerned that she has a good character; that is most important.

    I'm completely convinced that if all 7 Billion people on this planet were raised by a parent like Atticus Finch, then there would be no wars, no injustice, and no problems.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • momoya

      H.e.ll yeah.. I never really thought of it in that way, but I like the word picture.. Atticus Finch dads all around!

      May 2, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Yes, if only everyone had loving parents.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • Funny how

      the actor beat his wife in real life.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • Atheist

      I'm not saying it's limited to the role of fathers though, it applies to mothers too.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
  10. DrDoITT

    Once we allow one kind of perversion, all kinds of perversions will come in... like p-e-d-o-f-i-l-i-a, b-e-s-t-i-a-l-i-t-y, p-o-l-y-g-a-m-y, d-o-i-n-g-i-t-w-i-t-h-t-h-e-d-e-a-d etc.

    Protect society!! protect children!!! curb g-a-y tendencies and people!

    May 2, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son


      May 2, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      I call troll.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • momoya

      Pedo is against the law for good reasons; as far as the rest of it, who cares?

      May 2, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • Casey

      It is scary how quickly you jump from a discussion about gay people to your statement about p-e-d-o-f-i-l-i-a, b-e-s-t-i-a-l-i-t-y, p-o-l-y-g-a-m-y, d-o-i-n-g-i-t-w-i-t-h-t-h-e-d-e-a-d etc. Do you think about having s e x with children, animals, and dead people often?

      May 2, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • bpsf

      And who will protect us from people like you, narrow minded hateful bigots

      May 2, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • Sane Person

      Wow! Grow up and get an education. We all live in a diverse world these days. Truely an amazingly ignorant rant from DrDolTT...

      May 2, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  11. bpsf

    "unintentionally offended" what a sincere apology. A pastor who can lie like that should be a politician

    May 2, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No kidding. "Mistakes were made."

      May 2, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  12. Terry

    This is what happens when cousins are allowed to marry cousins.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
  13. Newt

    “My words were not scripted..."

    Then your lack of discretion is a product of the devil. Seek help immediately.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
  14. Pamela

    Well now, the article is funny enough but compared to what is being written here, the guy seems tame! LOL. I love these posts. Some guy talks about slapping and punching and the rest of us are so outraged we act even worse. Thank goodness no one can pin what we say here on us! Hahaha!!!

    May 2, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  15. God's Oldest Dreamer

    VanHagar wrote on Wdenesday, May 2, 2012 at 7:47 pm, stating, "It was in faith in God that gave us the Salvation Army, Abused Children`s Fund, Freedom 424 (serving victims of s.ex trafficking), Bright Hope International (working with the poor), Children`s Christian Lifeline Hunger and Medical Relief, Christian World Relief, Five Talents-USA, Inc., Habitat for Humanity International, Living Water International (providing clean water), etc. etc. and hundreds (if not thousands) of other faith-based charities help the poor and disenfranchised. Pure evil? O.k. If you say so."

    Then,, with hundreds if not thousands of "faith-based" charities exactly how much closer have we all come to aleve our world of such malignancies of social disfigurements,,,,,,,,,,, ? Is it any wiser to take up the charities of a nation and change them into unbridled rantings and social tirades for the favored ills and foundling woes wherever the needs suit one to place such charities' donations? Why is one's homeland not worthy of being made free its' own malignancies of social disfigurements first and foremost before calavanting all across the world doing little to almost nothing? Get one's own house in order before vesting in another's house!

    May 2, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      What an absurd response. Don't feed starving children Africa, you haven't yet obtained my approval.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  16. Gwen

    My stepfather beat me almost every night, and threatened to kill me for not acting like he thought I should. If he'd known about punishment corsets, I would have been in one. And, I was not even a lesbian. When does this stop? When do they call a pervert a criminal?

    May 2, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • bpsf

      I am so very sorry, Please get counseling, you may never be able to forgive him, but you may live happier.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • edwardo

      Sorry that happened to you, but glad you survived it. The man was criminally insane for doing that to you. They have a name, they're called sociopaths. I hope good things are in store for you, from this time forward!

      May 2, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
  17. RickBangkok

    Sick, sick sick. If this is Jesus I do not want it.....can I puch this pastor?

    May 2, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • bpsf

      The first thing Jesus taught was to love and honor God. Then lover one another, it was a first for its day. Please remember that true Christians believe that we are here to love, and help one another.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • momoya

      Yes, please do, Rick.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • Ruby

      Yes Rick, you can. When you hear words like this come from his mouth, you just rap his mouth. Man up – punch him, maybe a couple of times. Tell him, “God made you to love your neighbor and by God you are going to love your neighbor.”

      May 2, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • Dude Looks Like A Laity

      Then the "true" Christians need to "(wo)man-up" and start expunging the scourge of "un-true" Christians from their ranks, particularly Clergy. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      This is not Jesus.

      Jesus probably wants to punch the paster too.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  18. ezg437

    Sounds to me like god made male kids with limp wrists because god wanted them to have them that way, gay or not. Amen!

    May 2, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Just so. Otherwise, one would have to conclude that either 1)God is an idiot who has no control or 2) God has control and chooses to "make" his creations both straight and gay or 3) There IS no god.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Mark


      May 2, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  19. spottedsharks

    Hitchens was right: religion poisons everything.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • Shelley

      Agree 100%. If people want to "man up" or "woman up" for that matter, stop sitting in the pews every week like stupid sheep and stop allowing some nitwit (who's probably got his own closetful of skeletons) to tell you how to live your life or raise your children. The answers are not in some ancient book of myths. Anyone who looks to the vile old testament for advice on child-rearing has a few screws loose.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  20. Chrys

    DanTheMan: It CAN be done. It's called being spiritual, and LOTS of people follow that path.

    May 2, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      WHAT can be "done"?

      May 2, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Do you not think that your 'spiritualism' is living off of the persistence of organized religions? What if in your spiritual journey you actually conceive of something worthwhile? Are you allowed to write it down? Are you allowed to tell other people about it? What happens when the world is only made up of non-religious spiritualists? Won't you be curious about what everyone else is thinking?

      May 2, 2012 at 10:10 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.