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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

"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.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

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. Klaark

    He should have said "I'm sorry I let the real me slip out during a sermon and have been seen for the evil, twisted, bigot that I am. I should probably do a lot of soul searching, but I'm afraid of what I might find. "

    Because that would have been the truth, and lying is a sin.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:28 am |
  2. Dzerres

    Yes, violence against children is very christ-like, ain't it?

    May 3, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  3. Lynn

    I consider myself a Christian...but this is NOT what I believe my religion to represent. This is sad sad perverted twisting and mans attempt to manage God and implement mans laws into it. The God I worship is about love and mercy, not hell fire and condemnation. God instructed us to love not hate. I wish more people would understand that rather than get all powerful and encourage hate..the very opposite and what Jesus died for.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • Larry

      I dont follow any religion but i think if more people followed a god or religion that believed in love mercy kindess acceptance wed be a hell of a lot better off

      May 3, 2012 at 12:29 am |
  4. Chirag

    This guy should be the one that gets hit. Taking peoples hard earned money under bs pretenses.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:22 am |
  5. Lisa

    Well, I guess this is an improvement from what they originally did to gay kids, that is kill them outright.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Like in Iran. Oh no I forgot, they said that's not true. Ofcourse they say there aren't any gay people in Iran.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:46 am |
  6. AmesIA

    Look up Zach Wahls testimony in the Iowa legistlature and then tell me about Christian values. Are preachers like this following Christ or the scribes and pharisees that killed him for the trouble he caused them?

    May 3, 2012 at 12:19 am |
  7. drinky

    Funny thing is that from the look of this guy he had a sack of nuts on his chin last night. Better punch himself.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:19 am |
  8. dhhl

    Ha ha ha! Nothing is funnier than a joke about punching children, am I right, pastor? I know that's the first subject I turn to for humor! Apparently your entire congregation thinks so, too.

    Next week try throwing in some jokes about beating up the homeless and slugging pregnant women, you'll have 'em rolling in the aisles!

    May 3, 2012 at 12:17 am |
  9. DJ

    I don't for a second believe that any male child chooses to be effiminate. Nor do I believe any female child chooses to be butch. Neither do I believe this is learned behavior. Simply put, they were "born this way." Additionally, though I do not profess any particular religious affiliation, I know lots of Christians who are appalled by this so-called minister's sermon. He needs to spend some time in prayer and reflection about his faith and to study more closely the words of Christ.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Cq

      He needs more time thinking about what it is to be compassionate.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:24 am |
  10. n8263

    NC voters your anti-gay amendment will go farther than any other bigot law has gone, making even civil unions and domestic partnerships illegal. Do you want to be more backwards than Mississippi?

    Vote against this asshole and vote against this hateful amendment.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:14 am |
  11. Emmanuel Goldstien

    Other than Buddhism and a very few small, nearly unheard of religions, RELIGIONS TEACH HATE. They teach intolerance, hate, and exclusion. Anyone that thinks their church teaches love and acceptance is fooling themselves. This man was probably biting his tongue so hard during his so-called 'apology' that his mouth was filled with blood.
    Fake man in the sky 1 Love and tolerance 0

    May 3, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • Lisa

      There are Buddhists who look down at people who are of lower station in life, of disadvantaged somehow, and wonder what wrong they could have done in a past life to deserve this fate.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • pablo1paz

      "a few small, nearly unheard-of religions"...? like rabbinical Judaism, Anabaptist Christianity, Quakerism, and the original Christianity of Jesus's followers until Constantine militarized, imperialized and Romanized it in the early 300's? Those the religions you mean? Definitely not the Hinduism of Mohandas Gandhi! or "Do no Harm"; who said that?
      . Those who fulminate against all religions just display their ignorance with such generalities - even an atheist is religiously atheistic. Religion is merely the outward and social expression of fundamental life values and spiritual experience; everybody has one... 'Fake guy in the sky' may be the only fundamental value some folks have with so many religions based on idols of greed, selfishness, external action, violence, control, and fear. Sad. But as Gandhi said over 80 years ago, the greatest impediment to the spread of Christian love is "Christians"...

      May 3, 2012 at 4:11 am |
  12. Pips

    Inciting violence is a crime in the US, and it not protected under free speech. Why is this man not locked up?

    May 3, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • Joe

      That's not true. If people aren't armed and immediately capable of hurting someone, just words are not criminal. Learn the law.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Lisa

      He's advocating corporal punishment of children by their parents, which is still legal in most places.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:30 am |
  13. Nate (Seattle, WA)

    Religion is bigotry, disguised as virtue to make its followers feel righteous.

    Bigotry against gays. Bigotry against women. Bigotry against non-believers. Bigotry against knowledge and progress.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • n8263

      Religious morality is not very moral.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • a bro

      great reply

      May 3, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • a bro

      great comment

      May 3, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  14. jimtanker

    Don’t forget the National Day of Irreverence tomorrow. Break every one of the commandments that you can tomorrow. I’m not talking about breaking any laws but you can lust after a woman in your heart for adultery and hate someone which is the same as murder and covet something which is the same as stealing. You know, the usual Way of the Master B S.

    For those who can’t remember what the ten commandments are (I’m mostly talking to xtians here), here is the short version:
    1. You shall have no other gods before me.
    2. You shall not make for yourself any carved image. (like a cross with Jesus on it?)
    3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
    4. Remember the Sabbath day.
    5. Honor your father and your mother.
    6. You shall not murder.
    7. You shall not commit adultery.
    8. You shall not steal.
    9. You shall not bear false witness.
    10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house or donkey.

    Like I said, break all you can but don’t break any laws. Have fun and have a great day!


    May 3, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • jimtanker

      Please pass this on all you want. FB, Twitter, whatever you need to get the word out.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • saidso

      The 10 depend on which version you go by. They are not the same for every religion.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • boose

      Thou shalt not cornholee thy brother.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  15. ron

    His congregations seemed to enjoy it. They laughed and said amen. They enjoy criticizing, judging, and making fun of people who are different than they are. I wonder what Jesus would think of what people do in his name?

    May 3, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • Pips

      Probably send them straight to hell for failing the test of loving everyone, even the sinners.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:13 am |
  16. a bro

    holy crap, i just watched the video. i am literally speachless. i really hope that all of these religous nutjobs continue to speak like this.. maybe we can eventually be rid of this.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:06 am |
  17. Tom

    In response to being punched, the gay child should repeatedly kick the puncher in the groin.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:04 am |
  18. Penalty

    Isn't there a penalty within Christianity for misrepresenting the Word? Shouldn't the greater church enforce that penalty on those that misrepresent the Word? True that his judgement will be dealt later when he passes on, but the organization that is the church has to defend its product on earth or face the consequence that it willl not survive. Enforce the penalty.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Nick

      What goes around comes around; May take time but it will happen.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • Lisa

      Unfortunately, the times when heretics could be executed is long gone. Now, any Tom, Dick, or Harry with access to the internet for an afternoon and a printer to print off their degree can become a minister. At least with Catholic priests you know that they're well educated with a university-equivelent degree.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Which greater church is this guy answerable to? That's one of the gotchas about Protestantism, the only real authority is the bible. He has the authority to interpret the text.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • sam stone

      given the number of different opinions on "the word", how do you establish a baseline?

      May 3, 2012 at 3:43 am |
  19. Frank Cardenas

    I don't know who is more of an idiot, the pastor or the people listening to him?

    May 3, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Lisa

      The people agreeing with him on the tape, but the topper would have be any of them who actually did what he said.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:37 am |
  20. Boo

    When religion ruled the world it was called the dark ages. When ignorant people are called out on their hate and ignorance they say, "I didn't mean that." or "It was a joke." Fear makes them hate and hate makes them stupid. Their Jesus is pretty cool but I can't tolerate or abide his hypocrite two faced fans.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Frank Cardenas

      Amen to that!

      May 3, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • Lisa

      "I didn't mean that." and "It was a joke" also happen to be the top excuses bullies make when they get caught. Interesting, huh?

      May 3, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • Mike Blackadder

      I don't get it Boo, are you a fan or aren't you? If you are then don't be afraid to say so. You know Jesus had a similar problem. He spent his life surrounded by hypocrites and sinners.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:57 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46
About this blog

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.