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. Christian

    From someone who was there, 1.) He never condoned child abuse; no one at the service walked away with that idea. 2.) He never told the newspaper or any of the interviewers that he was "joking" (that was included by the reporter); what he said was he was using hyperbole to prove a point. You can disagree with him on the issue; you can even believe it was in bad taste; but, please, get the entire story before you make ridiculous accusations.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • Name*DW

      funny a christian is calling commenters ridiculous....this idiot is the one who believes in an imaginary all powerful friend

      May 2, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Drew

      My accusation is that this man is an intolerant piece of human-garbage, and you probably are too if you continue to attend his church after this. I believe most people agree with me

      May 2, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • mandarax

      Christian, that video has audio too. We can hear his words.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • n8263

      What point did he "prove?"

      May 2, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
    • mandarax

      Christian, and furthermore: if you are defending his words you are a scu.mbag too.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
    • Ernesto Guevara

      He wasn't condoning child abuse; he was only telling people to hit their children. Totally different. Really.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      I'm a Catholic and a parent and I disagree with him on the issue, and I think what he said was not only in bad taste, i think what he says encourages sinfulness instead of virtue.

      It's a blessing to be a parent. Especially if you believe in God, you have to know that your children are not your property. We parent as stewards of the true Father and it certainly isnt our place to do what He doesn't do. There are many gay people who live chaste lives, just as there are heteros.xual men and women who do the same. How then is it a sin to have a 'limp wrist' or for a girl to care more about baseball than her looks? Your Pastor's sermon is false. God is never false. Open your eyes.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
  2. Name*DW

    if you believe in an imaginary god in the sky then your an irrational idiot to begin with

    May 2, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • John

      As opposed to the rational one that you are, that is unable to spell "you're."

      May 2, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  3. DanW

    Wow, what a mean-spirited SOB. This is someone who people look to for spiritual advice???

    May 2, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
  4. WachetAuf

    We all need to give up our cushy lifestyles and go into the wilderness to seek guidance away from the influence of the flock. The flock is held together by fear, not love or tolerance. Organized religion is corrupted as it was in Jesus' day and always will be. Jesus abandoned the heirachy of the temple and went into the streets to bring a message to each individual who would hear him. He had to do that because when people flock together the worst traits of all of the people are amplified, as it is with the man who is the subject of this story. No truth can penetrate the walls of those herds.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • John

      What a profound statement. You are the man 🙂

      May 2, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
  5. Ish

    Well in his line of thinking...I believe that house of the Lord is corrupt and therefore should be burned to the ground or destroyed and rebuilt with a new pastor.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  6. ug

    Why retract it?

    May 2, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  7. n8263

    In testament to her wisdom it is easy to understand why Mother Tareasa lost her faith and died an atheist.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • DanW

      She seems to have had a crisis of faith, but who hasn't? You are stating something as a fact that you have no way of knowing.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
    • n8263

      Oh that is right, a "crisis of faith," just as the Catholic Church spun it. Or in her own words, she lost her faith.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Mother Teresa led an amazingly difficult life and gave everything that she had. God doesn't give equally to everyone (which is difficult for many of us to accept) but gives enough that everyone of us can be saved. Mother Teresa doubted her faith, just like virtually every other Christian, and this was just another manner in which God apparently allowed Mother Teresa to suffer. Mother Teresa never stopped living her life in love. If atheists want to identify with her and lay claim to her then I see no reason to object. In fact I would encourage you to do so.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:26 am |
  8. Drew

    what a pathetic excuse for a Christian

    May 2, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
  9. God's Love

    You just know his friends and parishioners are all huddled around him, telling him how unfair it is that one lectue on beating children who display gay stereotypical behavior is undoing all the years of good he did with his "hit the fleshy parts of the buttocks" ministry.

    Oh those commie libtards! It was out of context! He was just bringing the love and warmth of God's word on the subject of hitting your children!

    Oh those gay abominations, so filled with hate that they scream against the hand of God upside the head of your own children!

    It's a conspiracy!

    May 2, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  10. Jason Bradeen

    Never been more proud to be a atheist...

    May 2, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Richie R.

      Dude, I feel you. Atheists will save this country from these kind of people...

      May 2, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • Voltaire


      May 2, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  11. sybaris

    It's time to start tapping into that ole religion revenue stream.

    Tax 'em out of existence!!

    May 2, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Ernesto Guevara

      The sick part is that this guy's income will probably skyrocket for as long as this is in the press. Misguided Christians will fall all over themselves to show support against the gay socialist elitist liberal new world order. No joke, he'll rake in the bucks.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  12. Jason

    Gay male here who would never hit a kid. Pastor who seems to think it is ok, even in jest. Intolerant bigots like this have NO place to talk about family.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • fritz

      I agree, this christian fool should be arrested for inciting parents to hit their suspected gay children. He really believes that hitting young gay males in the name of jesus is going to 'straiten' them out as if their gayness is a real lifestyle choice. It is not as you well know. To hit gay people because they are gay or anyone else who is different is a hate crime. This evil man who calls himself a pastor only retracted because he realizes the trouble he can get into for this kind of hate speech. You have at least one American on your side. Me.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
  13. n8263

    Anyone who is voting in NC should vote against this anti-gay legislation in protest of this asshole.

    This Christian trash is exactly why we need a separation of church and state.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
  14. TheWord

    This "pastor" needs "a good punch" for the sake of "correction." What an utterly insane a–hole.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • fritz

      Absolutely, this self-righteous bozo pastor definitely needs a severe lesson in humility. The azzdrubbing he's getting now isn't nearly enough.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
  15. SokrMom

    Oh, for god's sake, this is a new low for Christian anti-gay bigotry. It's unbelievable that Christians believe people make a "choice" to be gay when such an incredible amount of hatred is expressed toward gay people, even as children.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
  16. Jim

    This guy has no business being a minister. Guess what...ministers speak unscripted all the time to individuals and congregations and saying he didn't mean it just doesn't wash. Now he is not only a bigot and hate monger but a liar as well. Lastly, any church whose tenets include interpreting the Bible for their intolerance and hatred of those different than themselves are a disgrace to Christians all over the world. Christ taught the opposite of what this minister said and what his church espouses. Shame on them all.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
  17. n8263

    Just imagine how much better America will be when most Americans are no longer religious.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • fritz

      The age of Humanism is coming. When people choose to behave ethically without the 'pain and reward' tactics of the christians or muslims, when doing right for righteousness sake alone becomes the norm, you'll know it has arrived. We're not there yet. But hang tough. It's coming

      May 2, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  18. 5x

    Gotta side with the gay people on this one.

    I might not approve, but unlike god, at least I know gay people are real.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
  19. Jon

    He didn't retract his statement, nor did he apologize!

    He did what all of these jerks do: He basically said, "Well, the truth hurts. And I'm sorry it bothers you". Its worthless.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
  20. Quincy

    So, basically he apologized for getting caught?

    I think his audience was laughing at his depiction of the 'limp wrist' rather than what he claimed to be the 'joke.'

    May 2, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • Keith Folse

      Interesting to note that the audience laughed at his reference to males with a limp wrist, but when he talked about daughters not being butch and needing to dress up and be pretty, no one laughed.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:00 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.