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. GrowUp

    People actually listen to this guy and look up to him? Wow–how pathetic is that?

    May 3, 2012 at 1:19 am |
  2. donut

    He meant what he said, he didn't beat around the bush, whether I agree with him or not, he should stick to what he said.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • GrowUp

      Yeah–just keep on driving over a cliff to be consistent. Good advice.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:21 am |
  3. Shane

    Gay, Atheist..... Why do these guys forget their own scriptures "Judge not lest ye be judged" "Do unto others as ye do unto thee" this jerk is a piece of work. But then most christian I know are just like him. Really churches should not have a pass on paying taxes, and I'll tell you all a secret my brother in law is a pastor and he has cheated on my sister, is not a rarity folks, these guys are not any different than any other guy with a dick lol. Hope he does not have any kids, or a wife 🙁

    May 3, 2012 at 1:11 am |
  4. Calbikerman

    The American Taliban raises it's ugly head for all too see....

    May 3, 2012 at 1:09 am |
  5. 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 1:09 am |
    • Really?

      Gay Christian is like being a black member of the KKK.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • Really?

      Gay Christian is like being a black member of the K.KK.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • Joey

      I respect your opinion. But you're wrong. It's nothing like that at all.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:26 am |
    • Joey

      However, I would agree that being a member of this Church would be like being a black member of the KKK. The guy (Christian or not) is just plain scary to me!

      May 3, 2012 at 1:34 am |
    • No Truth, Just Claims


      A majority of Christians are working overtime to stop LBGT people from getting equal rights and use their religious teachings to justify it. I have had discussions with more Christians than I care to admit who advocate public executions for ho.mos.exuals. I wish I was kidding. I realize not all Christians are like this but a large majority think you should be tortured forever, I would not want to share a common label with those as.shats.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:45 am |
  6. LP

    1) 1st I am not a christian (Pagan)
    2) This guy is a nutcase.
    3) Also note... I am a conservative. I just don't trust big government So I don't see this as Liberal vs Conservative. i see it as
    sanity vs insanity.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:07 am |
  7. GrowUp

    Sick and disgusting. This guy peddles hate in the name of Christ–and does it for money! That is the true abomination.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:06 am |
  8. criticalthinker

    It's amazing to me how many people criticize Christianity for its nonacceptance of the LGBT community and then do exactly the same thing by illegitimizing all religious belief. I'm pretty sure that discriminating against those with Christian beliefs is not the way to further civil rights in this country...

    May 3, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • michael

      It's the old don't be intolerant of my intolerance line. If you use religion as your excuse to hate then you have already illegitimatized it yourself.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • GrowUp

      The Christian community needs to take accountability for the reputation it has rather than playing the victim card.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:24 am |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Show me the story of the atheist leader telling his group to beat their children if they show any religious tendencies.

      Wow, you minimize unethical Christian teaching by playing the victim. As a christian this story should pis.s you off and instead you act like a little child who says "but look what they did"


      May 3, 2012 at 1:28 am |
    • drkent3

      Depending upon what you mean by 'hate', there may very well be a big difference. If I say 'Christians are fools', that is a far cry from saying 'Gays should be beaten'. I don't think too many would be offended by Christians saying 'Gays are fools', but I'm quite sure every Christian would be offended by 'Christians should be beaten'.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:29 am |
    • criticalthinker

      The problem is that you're saying that those who hold Christian beliefs are "using their religion to excuse their hate." I am an atheist, but it frightens me to see how people are so willing to dismiss, oversimplify, and lump together anyone who holds religious beliefs under the same label of espousing hatred. How is that not discrimination?

      May 3, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • GrowUp

      There is a reason that Christians have developed a poor reputation and this guy is Exhibit "A". If you don't like the negative image you have, then do something about it. Get your house in order and stop being a crybaby.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:34 am |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      No it is not discrimination, I can disagree with a groups beliefs and not treat them unfairly. I don't think all Christians are like this but the bottom line is their "holy" book advocates and justifys this teaching as well as a slew of other unethical actions.

      May 3, 2012 at 2:27 am |
  9. Brian Ritchey

    Ministers have a talent for making fools of themselves.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:00 am |
  10. Joesense

    i respect him if he sticks by what he said, instead of this.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • Observer

      Harris is clueless about the Golden Rule.

      There is ZERO reason to respect him.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • Sick

      Hey, he may have his opinions about being gay, that's his right, but he should be prosecuted for promoting child abuse and assault. I don't even care about the issue of being gay, this is bigger, he told parents to hit their kids; that is abuse, its disgusting.
      He isn't a pastor, he's a pretender.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:07 am |
    • sam stone

      i do not respect bigots. if he sticks to it, he is an obstinant bigot.

      May 3, 2012 at 3:37 am |
  11. Ozymandias71

    Wow... I have scrolled through ten pages of comments and I can't help but notice that all the 'Christians' that would normally be screaming bible verses to the high heaven are almost completely silent. What's the matter? Embarrassed? Can't come up with a bible-spin to support this pastor's child-beating advice?

    Of course I see some say 'Well we aren't all like that'. So when are you Christians (as opposed to 'Christians' or CINOs) going to actually stand up to these raving madmen (and women)? You do nothing to stop these people – then you're complicit. Whispering 'I don't agree' where no one from your congregation can see you doesn't count for a dam.n thing.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Hey, I've been commenting furiously. Open your eyes!

      May 3, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • Flamespeak

      I am not a Christian, but I firmly believe that physical corrective techniques should be utilized when warranted. "Beating the ga y out" of your child is not one of those situations.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:01 am |
  12. n8263

    So is he saying it is ok to punch gay children and break their wrists or not?

    Religious morality is so confusing. If it was based on reason maybe rational people could understand it, but instead we have to rely on crazies like Sean Harris to tell us what their imaginary friend thinks.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:49 am |
  13. reader

    This is incredibly sad. When are people going to realize being gay isn't 'a lifestyle choice'? We need more understanding and education and less hatred and ignorance – and this is a church??

    May 3, 2012 at 12:46 am |
  14. GodPot

    " It is unfortunate I was not more careful and deliberate.” Translation – I still mean what I said, but I wish I had said it more artfully and used more code words so as to throw off the liberals.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  15. spockmonster

    Religion is a mental disease. It's victims are sociopathic and driven to eliminate self-determination.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:42 am |
  16. So what

    So what man why are you backing down. Parents – smack your kid upside the head if they display gay tendencies and setthem straight. Why do NORMAL PEOPLE have to cater to abominations of humanity?

    May 3, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • spockmonster

      what a dork.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • Observer

      What would you know about normal people?

      May 3, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • sam stone

      by "abominations of humanity", are you speaking of gay people, or this pastor?

      May 3, 2012 at 3:39 am |
  17. be

    What a sad excuse for a Christian.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • boose

      It's an attempt to reduce the number of aids victims. What's wrong with that?

      May 3, 2012 at 12:37 am |
  18. Gordyb

    Another example of righti wing fanatics

    May 3, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • boose

      They are right. Who would want to pay the cost of aids meds???????

      May 3, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  19. OhPleaseYerKillinMeSTOP

    TAX CHURCHES NOW! Let them peddle their hate on their own dime, not mine. They place incredible loads on municipal infrastructure and services with their multi million dollar megacathedrals and pay not a dime but foist the load onto all homeowners. More embezzlement, pederasty, adultery, domestic violence originates in those stained glass cesspools than any other profession. What is taking Americans so long to see and renounce the anti-science, politically corrupting threat within? Religion is by any definition a mental illness. Fear and stupidity.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:30 am |
  20. Atheist

    It's time for these corporations disguised as places of worship to pay taxes.

    May 3, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • DJ

      Amen to that!

      May 3, 2012 at 12:38 am |
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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.