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. Devin

    Stupidity doesn't belong behind a pulpit, or anywhere where others IQ is inherently lowered by the comments of those standing in authority. Perhaps a girly boy with some muscle power should give him an ass kicking in the name of purifying stupidity. In Jesus name I pray,

    May 2, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • Devin

      Then again, perhaps this has already happened when nobody else was arround LOL. Thus the retracted statement. Oh well morons are good for a chuckle if nothing else.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  2. Jeff

    Typical "Christian", who does not act "Christ Like". Would Jesus Christ have said these words, been this harsh? I have only known ONE Man of God who lived every day as Christ Like as he could. Always following The Word of God, but leading his flock in the kind, loving manner of Christ. More preachers need to go back and relearn how Jesus Christ led.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • Wanna follow Jesus

      The kind loving Jesus who is supposedly going to throw most of the population of Earth into eternal torture?

      How am I supposed to follow that model without some serious firepower?

      May 2, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  3. grist

    Really not possible to "retract" his remarks. They are on video.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • No remorse there

      He didn't retract anything. Read his comments. No retraction, no remorse, the problem is how it was misunderstood by everyone else.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
  4. TM

    This "pastor" is unworthy to hold any position of trust or authority. Having watched him speak and move, I have come to the confusion that he does not project an image that is "manly" enough. That means I can punch him, right?

    May 2, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
  5. andrew

    If it stops the kids from being gay, what is wrong with it.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Sir

      Um lets see hitting doesnt help any type of behavior, muchless change something you are born with.
      Do you think if i hit you enough you would magically become smart? Didnt think so...

      May 2, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • Loc-nar

      Do you beat your dog to death with a baseball bat if it piddles on the floor? Then why would you hurt a defenseless child?

      May 2, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • common sense

      that is exactly what's wrong with it

      May 2, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • Marty1974

      It is more likely to cause a a child to kill themselves. You can beat the Gay out of someone.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Casey

      I wonder if we can beat the bigotry out of bigots...

      May 2, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • danielwalldammit

      Enjoying yourself?

      May 5, 2012 at 2:14 am |
  6. Randall -- God's Chosen One (and a North Carolinian)

    Just remember - event though he "retracted" his asinine comments, there were still several in his congregation who were telling AMEN. This fool Sean Harris is the one who needs a punch in the face.

    People, please don't judge us in NC based on this jack*ss. We're not all jerks.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • Loc-nar

      Drive these people into the sea, cleanse North Carolina, and I will definitely give you credit for it and agree that the leftover people are okay. If you don't want to be associated with them, do something about it.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Mischa

      There's plenty of good people everywhere. 😉

      May 2, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • danielwalldammit

      His retraction wasn't.

      May 5, 2012 at 2:15 am |
  7. snowbunnie

    This guy has got to be an idiot. I can't believe for one second a 'man of God' would say such a thing but hey, I can't judge him so I'll just have to pray is ignorance away for him.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
  8. Richard F. Kessler

    Any individual advocating doing anything harmful to "the fleshy part of a child's buttocks" is a sick puppy. Hiding behind a pulpit does not change the facts. What happened to turning the other cheek instead of beating someone else's. It is always wrong to strike those with whom we simply disagree. That even includes this blithering pastor.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
  9. n8263

    This is why objective morality can only be based on rational thought, not religion.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • Drew

      How does what he said have to do with religion? It seems to me that this man is just very hung up on his own orientation, and thus hateful of gays. Haters gonna hate, religion or not

      May 2, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
    • n8263

      He is a pastor and references the Bible to justify abusing children and his obsessive hatred of homosexuality.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      This is why? Because of some idiot pastor. How 'objective' of you.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:39 am |
  10. Rev. Sean Harris

    Boy, it's a good thing they didn't film last week's "Stone The Homos With The Mineral Love Of Jesus" sermon.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • Rev. Sean Harris

      Oh no! Rev. Joey Ramone's "Beat On The Brat" sermon has gotten onto the Commie News Network too!


      May 2, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  11. cnsrv

    More right-wing loons doing things that embarrass our nation.

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

    Religious morality is not very moral.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Right, like claiming that a baby in utero is actually a living being and should be treated as such. How immoral.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:43 am |
  13. Earthling

    Another idiot mouthing off because he is too ignorant to understand that he doesn't know everything.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  14. denroy

    Burn him at the stake – if he holds medieval ideas then he can have a medieval punishment

    May 2, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • Rev. Sean Harris

      Gay stake burning will be next week's sermon. We call it a Fayetteville Barbeque.

      Man up!

      May 2, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
  15. n8263

    Some Americans still wonder why religion is dangerous and should not be mixed with politics.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
  16. Roger

    These people seem to think that pain inflicted on someone is perfectly fine as long as it is done from a perspective of love. They conveniently forget that it actually inflicts pain, which cannot possible be RECEIVED in love.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
  17. Sheepleherder

    He didn't offend gays he offended moral human beings and more importantly he offended the Lord.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
  18. Oiler41

    Just one more right wingnut. Hey, I know, let's start giving THEM a good punch!

    May 2, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
  19. kid hitter

    smackin kids around is sooooo old testament... didn't jesus bring the new law? c'mon everybody! get fabulous!

    May 2, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
  20. alan

    This is just another example of personal ignorance by "christians" or those who proport to represent them.At least he's not turning his head while his "flock" preys on boys.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:02 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.