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. Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

    Anybody who says things along the line of "beat the gay out of them" clearly doesn't understand the whole LGBT thing.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Joey

      This guy doesn't sound very Christian to me. The only way to get to God is through Jesus. The Jesus I know is loving, compassionate, accepting and forgiving. As a Gay man, it really bothers me when people use his name in vain to try and distort who Jesus really is and what HE stands for...LOVE!

      May 3, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • HotAirAce

      I think he sounds very christian. Most christians are hypocrites and all christian leaders are charlatans, selling snake oil.

      May 3, 2012 at 4:05 am |
  2. b4bigbang

    He that spares his rod hates his son: but he that loves him chastens him early. – Proverbs 13:24

    If parents cared enough about their kids to punish them as soon as they begin to go astray, then we wouldn't have so much decay in our society today.

    If Daddy would've put the Hickory rod to Sonny's back as a kid, then he probably wouldn't be roaming the streets of the city's g a y district looking for some guy's meat rod to put up his a n u s.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • gnodges

      You're god is a figment of your imagination....that is all.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Prayer and hitting changes things

      Leave it to you to actually think this is a good idea.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Danno

      Did you seriously quote the bible to support beating kids? You have a sickness, dude. Go see a mental health professional. It's unfortunate there isn't really a "hell"... because apes like you would definitely end up there.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      And this is why Christians have the moral development of toddlers. Hope of reward and fear of punishment is how you control children and dogs – it doesn't make for good people, it makes for cowards, bullies and delusional dreamers.

      Enlightened folks have a higher moral development – involving abstract thinking, empathy and the ability to see more than one side of the issue.

      Cretins control and are controlled via pavlovian responses.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • just sayin

      What about when Sonny walks in on his dad and his Pastor playing pray to Jesus on your knees?

      May 2, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Casey

      I wonder if someone could beat the bigotry out of you.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • pattysboi

      Gads, I feel sorry for ANY child that comes into contact with YOU.

      May 2, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • joels2000

      i like how christians use biblical quotes to beat kids..... like a shepard actually uses a "rod" to "club" his sheep to death.

      You are such and idiot...

      May 2, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Jacquie

      sounds like you are gay and don't have the manhood to face it.

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

      I was on the debate team in high school and I never lost a debate when the other side decided to quote the Bible. I had my own copy and would immediately find a contradictory passage for almost any position the Bible took. The Bible's veracity can be disproved using nothing but the Bible itself. The opponent would get flustered trying to explain to the judges why they should believe his quote and ignore the one I gave and always ended up looking like a floundering idiot. You also quickly learn that those that like to quote the Bible and use it as an excuse for their beliefs (instead of thinking for themselves) know the least about religion and the Bible (and pretty much everything else).

      May 3, 2012 at 1:54 am |
    • sam stone

      b4: "meat rod"? pull your bible out of your a$$

      May 3, 2012 at 3:52 am |
    • Chess....Check

      John 8:1-11 Did you read those to?
      I did, my fav. is John 8:7 which reads "when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."

      So unless you've NEVER EVER commited a sin in your life.....keep your hands at your side, and your rods well away from anyone

      May 3, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  3. dave

    Funny how the men that still teach the truth and are now called extremist. Society seems to believe that all things should be accepted, if thats the case who will determine the limits? You can have spiritual love without being accepting of another persons lifestyle.This is why we have discernment, sadly many are too ignorant to know the difference between discernment and judgement.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Casey

      Being gay is an orientation, not a lifestyle.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      A many, such as yourself, think you are being pious when you're really nothing more than bigots.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • just sayin


      A violent act justified by religion is extreme period. God told me so or it says so...so its good to go...right?

      May 2, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • just sayin


      Being gay is an orientation, not a lifestyle.

      The Bible tells them different so you are wrong

      May 2, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • gnodges

      The "truth" as defined by you...riight. Here's my truth: All things SHOULDN'T be accepted....specifically, religions, whic are based on no more than mytha and legend, such as yours. That is all.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Vlad the Impaler

      It's not funny, it's really sad that so many people still consider that old poorly copied and mistranslated collection of fables called Bible an inspiration and the "truth". But I am not going to call for slapping everybody on the part of the body where the brain should be who quotes Bible or insinuates that Jesus talks to him.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "You can have spiritual love without being accepting of another persons lifestyle"

      It's when that nonacceptance crosses the line and blocks their civil rights that it then becomes prejudice and bigotry. Especially when the experts around the world have proven that being gay is not a choice, it's not a mental illness and it can't be voluntarily changed.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • danielwalldammit

      This man is not teaching the truth and you are not defending the truth. You know that as well as I do.

      May 3, 2012 at 2:50 am |
    • sam stone

      dave: why do you refer to it as a "lifestyle"? does it make it easier to look down on than if it were an orientation?

      May 3, 2012 at 3:55 am |
    • Genie

      The truth... the truth according to who? Christians? Muslims? Buddhists? Here's some truth for you, teach your child to be loving, compassionate, forgiving, and patient. Teach your child the fulfillment one can experience by serving others. And if you discover your son likes to put doilies under his football trophies or that your daughter likes Tonka trucks, well, so what? Would you rather your son be an obnoxious bully so long as he isn't the least bit effeminate (plenty of straight men are effeminate, by the way, it's just a personality trait)? Would you rather your daughter always wear pink and be submissive to every boy she dates so long as she never shows any hint of something someone might interpret as masculine? Heaven forbid our daughters express an interest in hunting or car repair or that our sons want to learn to sew. You can't be a good man if you know anything about interior design and no woman worth her salt can change her own tire.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:06 am |
    • gcriley

      Your post is a fine example of the ignorance you talk about.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:25 am |
    • bigmart

      IF your god hates the gays so much he certainly seems to make an aweful lot of them.. OR is it god made all of creation except for gay poeple now how does that work

      May 3, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Chess....Check

      You know what else is funny? The people who bombed the towers because they followed what they believed was the "truth". But according to you, they're not extremists because they followed the old ways of their religion. Instead of the thousands of others that believe that and don't blow themselves up. Not extremists at all.
      1. a person who favours or resorts to immoderate, uncompromising, or fanatical methods or behaviour, esp in being politically radical


      May 3, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  4. t3chsupport

    He doesn't regret it. He regrets getting called out for it. Now you know exactly what that preacher thinks – that it's perfectly acceptable, and encouraged, to abuse your child if they don't fit into what you think are gender norms.

    When things like this come up, I really hope there is a hell, and I can't wait for everyone in that church who cheered for him to go there.

    People who would abuse their child just because they don't act like a certain stereotype do not deserve to have children.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • HWB

      You my friend have a distorted view of the word "abuse". If you think that was abusing a child, then 98% of all children have been abused and therefore growing up and acting gay is OK. It is not. You should teach your child to treat everyone with respect, but not to accept unacceptable behavior and correct them when you see them. Fool.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • J.W

      There is a difference between swatting your kids behind and punching your kid. This pastor says you should man up and give your kid a good punch.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Joe


      May 2, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
  5. dappledview

    All of the Biblical verses the Christian church cites are Old Testament, from one book. Jesus taught love and forgiveness and turning away from violence. Given the hopeful nature of the first sentence of the statement, I was disappointed to see the rest.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  6. A Good Christian

    Do we always have to read this negative stuff about religion? Can't we read about the positive things like, uh, like . . . give me a minute . . . there must be something . . . uh

    I get back to you on this.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • HWB

      You are either dumb, or a fool or just dumber than normal people.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • gnodges


      May 2, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • edwardo

      Um.. the crusades. Um.. countless wars... um.. hatred um... witch burning. See there's what Xtianity brings us.

      May 2, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Genie

      I can't imagine why you stumbled on that one.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:07 am |
  7. lolo

    That's them so-called christians for you. Praising God on one had and selling their souls to the devil on the other. They will burn in hell for their devious teachings.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  8. JB

    From their website:
    "At times this may include appropriate and reasonable physical means ...employed upon the fleshy portion of the child’s buttocks"
    I am so sick of religious perverts.

    May 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • just sayin

      Yep a lot of Christians are pervs...disgusting

      May 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Danno

      Using religion as an excuse to beat children..... looks like we really do need a War on Christianity. Take down this worldwide child abusing cult once and for all.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Johnny Blammo

      Do buttocks have a non-fleshy portion, and what research did they do to find out?

      May 2, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  9. just sayin

    Let us not forget this is also the South....slower, dumber and simply more ignorant....it part of the bible belt for a reason.

    May 2, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • daniel

      i know some idiots like this from cali so it is not just in the south.Fathers want there sons to be toughguys and they will go to any length to do this all over the country

      May 2, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Brendan

      Agreed. All southerners are bigots.

      What is irony?

      May 2, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • HWB

      Great words from someone living in South America.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Girl Please

      Really? I used to believe things like this. Then I went to school and learned to think. Good job man. Kudos.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  10. Paul32

    Nothing wrong with some sound advice. If fathers took the time to be fathers we will have less gays in this country

    May 2, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • just sayin

      So says the caveman

      May 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • JJ

      Spoken like a true southern biggot

      May 2, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Danno

      Someone has daddy issues.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • W


      May 2, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Brett

      Paul, if your parents had taken the time to use birth control, the world would have to deal with one less bigoted moron.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Casey

      You cannot teach someone to be gay. Loving parents accept their children as they are, gifts from God.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Paul32

      If we go by casey's definition pedophiles will be considered gifts from god too lol

      May 2, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Rebel4Christ

      I don't think you guys realize what a bigot is!!!

      May 2, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Sandy

      Actually, it isn't "less" gays it's "fewer" gays. Your command of the English language is quite poor, I suspect. As is your soul.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • HWB

      Not cavemens, just left wing progressive loons who believes everyone should be gay and outlaw normal marriages.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Portland tony

      What are gay tendencies before puberty? "Treat your children well, their father's hell did slowly go by.......". I had a stuffed animal until I was 7....and am not gay....

      May 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • J.W

      Can you quote the comment that says we should outlaw hetero marriages? I missed that one.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Regis990

      @HWB, yes...that's want the left wants...outlaw normal marriage and only allow gay marriage. Id!ot.

      May 2, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • sam stone

      rebel: of course they understand what a bigot is. this pastor qualifies. as does anyone who says "all southerners are bigots"

      May 3, 2012 at 3:59 am |
    • sam stone

      "Not cavemens, just left wing progressive loons who believes everyone should be gay and outlaw normal marriages."

      Point out ONE person who believes everybody should be gay, or that we should outlaw "normal" marriages. Just ONE. Come on, big mouth, support your bigotry

      May 3, 2012 at 4:02 am |
    • gcriley

      paul32, you are living proof you can't cure stupid.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • ilvpitz

      You're such an id!ot. You can't teach someone to be gay or straight. It just happens. You certainly can't parent it out either. You obviously know no one that is gay. That's sad for you.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  11. yksdorg/new orleans

    why do we not go public and suggest that the reverand be slapped and punched for spewing his mind-numbing bs to his followers, for preaching the lies and fraud that his (and all)religions are-it is nothing more than preaching ignorance and stupidity to the masses and getting paid for it. people are just so stupid for buying into all of this bullcrap

    May 2, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  12. Woodstock

    While I'm offended by his comments about LGBT people, I'm much more alarmed that a "Christian" "pastor" who teaches at the church's school advocated child abuse. Make no mistake- he wasn't misquoted (listen to the recording), and he's only "sorry" so many people heard his bigotry laid bare and responded swiftly to condemn his words. This man DOES NOT represent the love of Christ or Christians. He should never be allowed near children. When somebody who hears his hateful words injures a child because "the pastor said it was OK" he should be held personally responsible.

    May 2, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  13. Juggling Squirrel-Jesus

    Love the sinner, hate the sin. By beating the gay out of your kids you show them how much you love them </sarcasm>

    May 2, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Juggling Squirrel-Jesus

      It's very similar to how, in denying people equal rights, you show compassion for them.

      May 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Beat on the brat, beat on the brat, beat on the squirrel with a baseball bat

      Just think of Jesus' love as a Louisville Slugger, a fine piece of loving anti-rodental anti-LBGT hickory.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • edwardo

      I'm sick of that stupid rant "Love the sinner hate the sin". How about "Love the person, hate their religion". Now that's a motto!

      May 2, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  14. DeeNYC

    Why are they singling out this guy? the vatican basically teaches the same thing.

    May 2, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • just sayin

      He singled himself out.

      May 2, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Brendan

      And by "basically" you mean "doesn't," right? I hate people on these comment boards. They're all so absorbed in being anti-religious they forget you actually have to make sense in order to appear intelligent to total strangers...it's sad.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  15. William Demuth

    Alas he is only human!

    I could see myself whoopin the hell outta my boy if I found him with a Bible.

    (note to the slow, that was sarcasam)

    May 2, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  16. just sayin

    I also like the part about people laughing. I can jsut see at the next church potluck people sitting around talking about stringing up kids that are gay on fences...what a knee slapper conversation. God Bless these loving Christians filled with the Holy Spirit and love.

    May 2, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • just sayin

      Okay folks, next Sunday we drop potential gay kids in the river with rocks tied to them. We will see who God thinks is straight and spare. Remember to wear your favorite Nassskkkkar number!

      May 2, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • HWB

      Run that by again. I missed the part where children are gay??????????????????????? Who said that? What study was that?

      May 2, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • edwardo

      @HWB – I've always known I was gay, yes since I was a child. Don't tell me what I know, or how I feel. Children are very very intelligent, and very in touch with their feelings. I remember more things from my childhood, than as an adult, and I am 53 years old.

      May 2, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  17. Danno

    Amazing how nothing of religious significance has occurred since humans have been able to record video of events.
    People will believe ancient, poorly written propaganda over actual scientific evidence.... is it any wonder they are afraid of people who don't subscribe to their insanity?

    May 2, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  18. Vlad the Impaler

    He should produce an instructional video on how to behave like a male, NC Baptist style. It's no point beating up gay kids without giving them an example of the male-appropriate, Jesus-approved behavior. See if he can book Larry the Cable Guy.

    May 2, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • edwardo

      That preacher's mannerisms looked pretty campy to me. He knows all the gestures, the lingo... hmmm.. wanna bet someone's played the skin flute at church choir?

      May 2, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  19. Evil_Atheist

    Vile, disgusting excuse for a human being. This is the love we preach in the pews every Sunday, Amen.

    May 2, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • edwardo

      This is actually tame, compared to the sermons I heard as a kid. A slap, a punch? HOw about eternal flames for being who you were born to be? Hatred at its finest!

      May 2, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  20. susan

    Perhaps what we need is for the good Christian men/women pastors to contact these extremists and address the problem. All we hear in the media is this type of hateful speech and no counteracting voice of any person of the cloth stepping up to a microphone and saying on network TV, "That is wrong and no person of the cloth should ever suggest beating a child." Where are the heroic pastors????

    May 2, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • jimtanker

      Are you as stupid as you sound?

      May 2, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • QS

      Looking for heroes within religion when it comes to gay people = exercise in futility.

      May 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • boythreeone

      Susan, there are many Christian pastors who condemn this. There are many LGBT people of faith, and LGBT affirming communities of faith. Perhaps their voices are harder to hear simply because they are open-minded. The acceptance and celebration of diverse faith traditions doesn't promote proselytizing. It isn't about forcing a belief on someone, and so is a more passive presence in the world. But there ARE activist communities of faith who cry out loudly for justice. The media doesn't promote them.

      May 3, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • christineattheyknownot

      You know what, there are heroes out there. Pastors that because they LOVE all people have set aside their job being fired and abused...even though they themselves are straight.

      There are good Christians, the majority even, that would never think to strike their child for simple gender violations and many that would bend over backwards to help a complete stranger even if that stranger is LGBT.

      The problem is the few extreme cases and those that hear those voices and are mislead.

      READ THE BIBLE and see clearly:
      1 Timothy 4
      New International Version (NIV)
      4 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

      6 If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters,[a] you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.

      May 3, 2012 at 11:22 am |
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