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. mychaeltodd

    I think this man is ignorant, and that his tax exempt status should be taken away, and that he should be sued. Telling men to slap or punch a wife is not right, and mothers- slapping and having a man punch your children is not right. Abuse does not solve problems it creates more problems. Those same chidren you abuse may one day abuse you or worst-Min.MYCHAELTODD

    May 3, 2012 at 4:30 am |
  2. Silly Little Freak

    Funny. Dan Savage wasn't this harsh, and he got a more vocal response. Irony. It just goes to show that christians are in fact the most hateful, vile creatures on the planet. Amen to that.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:23 am |
  3. dozedoff

    I'd like to put a passion of the christ style whipping on this god d-amn preacher. if anyone deserves it, its him.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:20 am |
  4. sfdr

    Bullying from the pulpit. Jesus is crying.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:08 am |
  5. OrangeW3dge

    John Edward's pastor?

    May 3, 2012 at 4:05 am |
  6. jaime

    And please...stop generalizing and assuming unfounded conclusions about what is Christianity based on a man's actions. And let's remember that no one has the right to hate or judge ANYONE (I mean gays and pastors equally).

    May 3, 2012 at 4:03 am |
    • OrangeW3dge

      Might Makes Right. We must smite the evil Satan. Burn and drown and tear asounder the witches

      May 3, 2012 at 4:10 am |
    • Phosphorus

      Actually, we do have the right to judge according to what we perceive as acceptable in society. I find Christian preachers of all denominations that preach hate, segregation, and prejudice to be unacceptable. Therefore, I judge them to be social viruses and malice spreading promoters of mental pestilence. I judge religion overall to be far more harmful than good. I judge those in the LGBT community to be persecuted injustly, and I defend their right to be happy and to be safe. If something is clearly harmful and wicked, such as the hatred taught by religion, and we are unwilling to pass judgment on the disorder and discord that it propagates, then we are just as much responsible for when innocent people are beaten as if we were to raise our own fists ourselves. I say, "Judge and accept to be judged by your peers."

      May 3, 2012 at 4:15 am |
    • jaime

      I find People that hate gays and preachers ( and or religion ) unacceptable. Therefore, I judge them to be social viruses and malice spreading promoters of mental pestilence. I judge hatred overall to be far more harmful than good. I judge preachers to be persecuted injustly, and I defend their right to be happy and to be safe. If something is clearly harmful and wicked, such as the hatred shared by many against preachers and religion, and we are unwilling to pass judgment on the disorder and discord that it propagates, then we are just as much responsible for when innocent people are beaten as if we were to raise

      May 3, 2012 at 4:43 am |
    • sam stone

      jaime: man created christianity, man defines christianity

      May 3, 2012 at 7:00 am |
  7. John

    The media conditions you mouthbreathers that anyone who says anything against the gay community you should lash out at them but deep down 90% of you would not want to see your male child walking around with a limp wrist. Remember GOD reads your heart not your actions you bunch of fake, phonies and frauds.

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

      There is no bigger fake than any god story. Prove me wrong...

      May 3, 2012 at 4:00 am |
    • sam stone

      No, Johnnie Boy, it is not the media. It's that culture is changing and we are not as accepting of the hateful tripe this bigot-wrapped-in-a-bible is spewing. As far as the limp wristed comment goes,that is just idiotic.

      May 3, 2012 at 4:08 am |
    • sam ston

      "Well that is why religion is not about humans, humans are going to mess up."

      Humans are the ones who CREATED religion

      May 3, 2012 at 4:27 am |
    • sam ston

      sorry, replaying to wrong poster.

      May 3, 2012 at 4:28 am |
  8. jaime

    Ease everyone, he did not mean to "hit" your kid, but to correct him. And he is right, you need to instruct kids that they are Males and not females and vice versa, kids need some guidance, dont you think? what is so wrong about that? Geez I feel that there are more Christian haters than gay haters out there!

    May 3, 2012 at 3:52 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Gays do not need instruction or correction! No one chooses to be gay. The rest of the world needs to get over religion and their hatred of gays.

      May 3, 2012 at 4:01 am |
    • Timmy C

      You obviously didn't listen to his diatribe.

      May 3, 2012 at 4:05 am |
    • jaime

      I agree with you, no one should hate anyone here. But are you sure being gay is not a lifestyle you chose?

      May 3, 2012 at 4:05 am |
    • HotAirAce

      100% certain.

      May 3, 2012 at 4:07 am |
    • Joan

      HotAir, this pastor did not control his tongue as he is commanded to do. He also lacked the compassion he is commanded ot have. However, one could equally say to you that gays need to get over the religious. There is hate on both sides. Fortunately, not everyone in either camp shares extremely hateful views like your own or those belonging to this hypocritical pastor.

      May 3, 2012 at 4:08 am |
    • HotAirAce

      I hate religion. I don't hate believers – I pity them for being stuck in the dark ages. I wish them no harm.

      May 3, 2012 at 4:10 am |
    • jaime

      I think everyone should get over hating religion. Religion doesn't mean hating gays, but I can tell there are way more people hating religious people than religious people hating gays. Religion teaches to love everyone, why so much hate against religion? Geez people!

      May 3, 2012 at 4:11 am |
    • sam stone

      jaimie: what a condescending comment. gays know their gender, and they know their orientation. so, "correcting" them will not change them.

      May 3, 2012 at 4:11 am |
    • sam stone

      "why so much hate against religion?"

      because it authorizes people to speak for god

      May 3, 2012 at 4:16 am |
    • jaime

      Don't you think kids need to know if they are a boy or a girl?

      May 3, 2012 at 4:16 am |
    • jaime

      Well that is why religion is not about humans, humans are going to mess up.

      May 3, 2012 at 4:20 am |
    • sam ston

      jaime: if "religion" (i assume you mean christianity) is not about hating gays, why are the "religious" groups making a big deal about denying gays equal rights?

      May 3, 2012 at 4:22 am |
    • sam ston

      jaime: my gosh, people know their gender. is that the best argument you have?

      May 3, 2012 at 4:25 am |
    • jaime

      They are not hating them by doing that ( of course they are always extremists in every case) but they are fighting for their right to preseve what they believe should be between a man and a woman, they don't mean to be haters by expressing and defending what they strongly believe is truth.

      May 3, 2012 at 4:28 am |
    • jaime

      Don't you think you should tell a boy.." you are a boy" and to a girl..." you are a girl"? What is so bad about that?

      May 3, 2012 at 4:30 am |
    • sam ston

      "Well that is why religion is not about humans, humans are going to mess up."

      Religion is not about humans? That is all that religion is about. Man CREATED religion with themselves as the "image of god"

      May 3, 2012 at 4:30 am |
    • jaime

      Sam: what is your argument? I am a doctor and so far I haven't heard of a gene that makes you gay...I know there are certain physical predispositions that might incline you into certain direction and i dont argue that, but for the majority you chose your lifestyle. But again I ask you...what is so bad about guiding a child into what to be a boy means?

      May 3, 2012 at 4:33 am |
    • jaime

      I dont argue that there are people out there that they create their own religion. But there is a difference between following a certain set of standards (I.e. Bible) and sticking to them to be a better person...and love others and making your own religion ( man made religion) that focuses on what a man says about what is supposed to be religion

      May 3, 2012 at 4:36 am |
    • jaime

      Sam: I knew it...you don't have an argument

      May 3, 2012 at 4:38 am |
    • sam stone

      "They are not hating them by doing that"

      What do you call denial of equal rights? "Sure, we don't want the nigras to vote, but not because we hate them, but because them darkies are not as smart as us white folk"

      If you want gays to have unequal rights, take the licensing of marriage out of the hands of government. Civil unions for both straight and gay couples. That would be what conveys the legal status. Churches could discriminate as they choose. Their "blessing" of the couple will hold NO legal status. This way, there is no unequal protection under the law and the religious could continue patting themselves on the back for their own piety

      May 3, 2012 at 4:38 am |
    • sam stone

      jaime: if you were a doctor, you would know orientation is far more complex than a "gene". as far as creating one's own god. it sems to me that following one's own god is the only way to make it real to the individual. top down faith is toxic.

      as far as saying i do not have an argument, you are way the fvck out of your league here

      May 3, 2012 at 4:42 am |
    • sam stone

      also, jaime, man CREATED the bible, so you are going by the words of man, too.

      i am off to the gym i look forward to reading your learned response when i get back.

      should be pretty amusing

      May 3, 2012 at 4:45 am |
    • sam stone

      when you say you are a doctor, are you speaking of an M.D., or a Phd?

      May 3, 2012 at 4:48 am |
    • jaime

      Of courshoy our choice of lifestyle is waaay more complex than just one gene, read better and judge less! I am not going to argue with someone that only has as argument that " religion is man made", it proves me of your ignorance.

      All I am saying is that nobody has the right to hate gays, preachers, religion, and however does that is worse than the words of this pastor. I am done with this!

      May 3, 2012 at 5:03 am |
    • sam stone

      yet you claim that orientation is a choice, but there is NO evidence of that.

      as far as the religion thing, it was made by man. if you want to call me ignorant, so be it.

      May 3, 2012 at 6:26 am |
    • sam stone

      you are denying people equal rights. whether you wrap it in a bible or not, it is still bigotry. now, go get back on your knees, b1tch

      May 3, 2012 at 6:28 am |
  9. Mare

    This hateful preacher is a sad little excuse for a leader of souls.

    May 3, 2012 at 3:29 am |
  10. Aaron

    And here's the thing, undoubtedly some closeted gay kid had to sit through that sermon and listen to the congregation laugh at them, pass their judgments and listen to them praise the preacher as he suggested his followers beat the gay out of them.

    If you are gay, takeaway from that is this: Nowhere is safe for you; not your school, not your church and not even your home. If anyone ever finds out, they will beat you at school, at home, or wherever they find you and no one will defend you... not even your preacher because he just told mom and dad to knock the gay out of you – he told them to punch you and tell you to man up.

    How isolated and alone do you think that would make a kid feel? What have you done to the least of these? Have you come to their support and comfort or have you publicly judged them, mocked them and threatened violence against them?

    May 3, 2012 at 3:25 am |
    • Nina

      Well said. This alleged "preacher" ought to be ashamed of himself. Back peddling just doesn't cut it. He is apparently a hateful person. I'd venture a guess that Jesus would be appalled.

      May 3, 2012 at 3:56 am |
  11. OvernOut

    The part of his rant where he insists that girls must smell like girls put him into the perv category, in our house's opinion. No private talks with the pastor alone in his study, kids, insist on a chaperone.

    May 3, 2012 at 3:12 am |
  12. Artimis

    I am a gay man....an adult, not a child. I challenge this man to come punch me any day. Man up.

    May 3, 2012 at 3:02 am |
  13. John

    welcome to america

    May 3, 2012 at 2:56 am |
  14. Gato Gordo

    I think we need to start punching bigotted pastors. These deceivers are leading us straight to hell. The Word of God says (1 John 4:20) "If a man says he loves God, but hates his brother, HE IS A LIAR."

    May 3, 2012 at 2:53 am |
  15. mpottsp

    it would seem a step in the right direction (to make amends) if the "pastor" were to stand before the pulpit and smack his own face with his own wrist until his own blood dripped on his own dress shirt and tie and then...keep his hateful mouth shut but for to carry the good news.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:52 am |
  16. lance corporal

    beverlyNC and others who are "good" christians;
    you can't define the religion and say what is and is not christian
    christianity is what it does as a whole, and for over 1000 years they have been abusing people
    it ebbs and rises and yes some good has been done but for the most part christianity has laid
    claim to ownership of basic human goodness for what ever good it has done
    but AS AN ORGANIZATION it has mostly done wrong and certainly of late has simply turned to hate

    I was baptised christian and until about 10 years ago despite my concept of god growing beyond the church I
    would have not have balked if someone assumed I was christian NOW I DO
    and I'm faaaaar from alone in this

    STAND UP!!!!!!! if your religion has been hijacked by haters out to make a buck and celebrity, if it has stopped teaching loving kindness and has turned to teaching anger and violence DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

    I have, I left the church and I'm raising children that will not automatically assume they are christian (how ALMOST ALL people become christian) I speak out against the hate and sometimes that means being in uncomfortable situations, I always do it with love and I turn the other cheek BUT to just allow it to happen???? because YOU know the truth of jesus???

    christianity IS the totality of what it does and lately it is heading toward a cliff with hate/fear driving
    IF your christian DO SOMETHING about it

    get a group together, travel to that church and speak out, interupt a sermon, make people face their hate and challenge them to turn to love

    I'm sick of reading that these are not "REAL" christians

    OH yeah they are!!!!

    May 3, 2012 at 2:47 am |
  17. Lafayette

    This website is a joke !!!!! Everybody is against this Pastor I can't believe that. Your only posting negative comments about this Pastor. Trust I know what your up to talking about these posts are not pre screened. Stop the Games!!!!!!

    May 3, 2012 at 2:47 am |
    • lance corporal

      yes it's all a plot, bwaaaa ha ha ha ha

      May 3, 2012 at 2:50 am |
    • lance corporal

      oh and don't worry the gay haters always come out in force at some point

      May 3, 2012 at 2:53 am |
    • sam stone

      Lafayette: Do you support what this pastor says?

      May 3, 2012 at 3:28 am |
    • mariner I

      Has it occured to you that the "Majority" of people responding here believe that it is not a good idea to have, of all people, a pastor, suggest that we hit kids? If not you need to have your head examined. We expect grunts like yourself to believe this is a good idea but we don't accept that someone who is supposed to be promoting religious ideas to be doing so. If anything it shows that the pastor hasn't learned the first thing about the teachings of christ, we he professes to represent. Go back to the cave and think on this. That pastor is an embarassment to his church but at least he had the sense to retract before his flock has flown.

      May 3, 2012 at 3:35 am |
    • HotAirAce

      What good could possibly be said about this asshole? That he is "man of the cloth" and therefore can do no wrong? Are you saying that you agree with what he said?

      May 3, 2012 at 3:46 am |
  18. Lafayette

    This website is a joke !!!!! Everybody is against this Pastor I can't believe that. Your only posting negative comments about this Pastor. Trust I know what your up to talking about these posts are not pro screened. Stop the Games!!!!!!

    May 3, 2012 at 2:45 am |
    • danielwalldammit

      Lol, heaven forbid that a website should fail to give equal credence to a man advocating child abuse. Next think you know they won't be willing to like cover the good side of slavery or present Hitler's viewpoint on the Holocaust.

      May 3, 2012 at 2:48 am |
    • DDanny1

      Posted twice huh? Maybe a little limp wristed on that "send" icon? I think thou protest too much.

      May 3, 2012 at 3:19 am |
  19. wisdom4u2

    One word: DUHHHHH!

    May 3, 2012 at 2:41 am |
  20. Adam

    Him and the creator of the entire universe are best buds, so it's not his fault, he was just repeating what his best bud thinks.

    May 3, 2012 at 2:40 am |
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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.