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. Cure The Sickness

    Their kind wouldn't feel ashamed of what they do if it wasn't wrong to begin with. Just a little food for thought to chew on you lousy liberals.

    May 3, 2012 at 7:19 am |
    • Kebos

      Who says their ashamed?

      May 3, 2012 at 7:22 am |
  2. GodIzForLosers

    make no mistake, this monster is backtracking because his hate speech and calls for violence went viral. He's not sorry he said it, he's sorry he was exposed as a monster after it went viral.

    May 3, 2012 at 7:18 am |
  3. Joe

    Hateful. He's no better than Fred Phelps. Proof that God does deliver wolfs in she eps clothing.

    May 3, 2012 at 7:18 am |
  4. AGuest9


    May 3, 2012 at 7:14 am |
    • Ian.

      Someone should punch him.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:28 am |
  5. Joe Blow

    He is just repeating what Jesus would say if he was here today: "beat the gay away".

    Baptists and the Taliban ... kissing cousins.

    May 3, 2012 at 7:11 am |
  6. GySgtG

    i don't condone beating a child. but teach them the right way.

    May 3, 2012 at 7:09 am |
    • Kebos

      What do you mean by that.....teach them not to be gay?

      May 3, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • WASP

      @gy: so teach children the "right" way; which way would that be? would the right way be teaching them to be true to whom they are or teaching to feel ashamed and hide themselves? people are born as they are and it is mentally and emotionally beneficial that they are encouraged to be themselves and taught how to deflect attacks from angry close minded people. the only choice is to the parent; do you love your child for how they were created or do you force them into a life of lies that will leave them unhappy, but not make you uncomfortible? choice is yours

      May 3, 2012 at 7:16 am |
    • jackvigdor

      Kebo...the right way is to teach your children that both Christianity and Islam are hateful and dangerous religions that have lead to Crusades, suicide bombing and all sorts of atrocities.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • Cure The Sickness

      You can't punch them anymore because it's now considered a "hate crime."

      May 3, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • GySgtG

      that is correct, Gay is a choice. no one is born Gay and while some gays would have you believe that. there is Zero evidence to support that theory. some gay are now admitting it is a choice. they decided to live that lifestyle.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:18 am |
    • Kebos

      @jackvigdor: I agree. Humanity will be a whole lot better off when religion is gone.
      @GySgtG: You're an idiot.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:21 am |
    • GySgtG

      kebos you are nothing more than the typical liberal hater. hate and attack anyone who disagrees with your uneduacted mind. before you start a liberal arts degree means nothing other than you are too dumb for a real degree.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • WASP

      @gy: zero evidence you say? hmmmm let me think, um i'm pretty certain that genetic anomolys during gestation cause a fetus to be born as both male/female which are known as trans-gender. now lets look at this angle for a moment you ignorant pr.ick. if humans can be born bearing both physical traits of male and female it would indicate that "being born gay" is a genetic matter that happens during pregnancy where there is a late introduction or early of chemicals for proper development of either male oriented thinking patterns or female oriented thinking patterns as it has been proven that males and females both respond to stimulus differently. ie. males act on fight or flight we either attack a problem or we run away; females however are more prone to tend or mend, where in they seek out friends to discuss the problem or they attempt to fix the problem themselves. the only choice is if the parents can love their child for how they were created, not for how they think they should be......choice is always yours as a parent.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:38 am |
  7. snowdogg

    "Harris said his comments were meant as a joke."

    Not funny. You don't need to hit your children for any reason.

    May 3, 2012 at 7:08 am |
  8. Carl Landburg

    Eventually humans will realize there is no mystical creature running around in the sky letting some into heaven, and some not, calling himself (well not really, we call him that) God. until we do, we will have nut jobs like this.

    May 3, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • GySgtG

      Albert Einstein,
      "God without science is ignorance and Science without God pointless

      May 3, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • AGuest9

      Being a genius doesn't mean that you are right 100% of the time.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:16 am |
    • Paul

      Carl, don't bet on it. Commonsense takes longer than we have....lol. In a world we let priests molest kids and forgive them...but worry about who other people marry and cast them out...commonsense is a long ways away.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:18 am |
    • Kebos

      @GySgtG: "Science without God is pointless" Really? Just because you spout off a snappy little line like this doesn't give it some profound justification to be true. Your statement makes no sense.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:18 am |
    • Joe

      Religion holds back human advancement...most of these fanatics still refuse to recognize evolution as a truth. It is the single most divisive activity that will, no doubt, be the source of conflict for all eternity. A shame.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • GySgtG

      guest 9
      i would put his genius above some m o r o n on the internet anyday

      May 3, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • atheist fred

      Albert Einstein

      "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings."

      May 3, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • GySgtG

      kebos its not my statement it was Alberts and just because you are not inteligent enough to understand stand him does mean his statement makes no sense.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • WASP

      @gy: please before you start attacking some elses intelligence check your own at the door. using a quote by a brillant mind is great, if used in the proper context. if spouted from an ignorant mouth it just sounds like garbage.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:51 am |
  9. SensibleJoe

    Sean Harris is a disgrace to Christianity. His preaching is in opposition to what Jesus Christ taught: love God, love your neighbor, love your enemy, treat others the same way you want to be treated. Those are Gospel values. What he preaches is not. Anathema!

    May 3, 2012 at 7:02 am |
    • GodIzForLosers

      WRONG! This inhuman monster EXACTLY represents the 2000 years of continuous murder, hate, and intolerance that is christianity.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • atheist fred

      "treat others the same way you want to be treated"

      Maybe he secretly wants to get donkey punched by someone in the LBGT community. Ever think of that?

      May 3, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • Amy

      GodIzForLosers – you're right – and so is Sensible Joe – you've both summed it up quite nicely. There is a huge difference between what Jesus taught and Christianity. Most Christianity teaches the exact opposite of what Jesus taught. Jesus was the ultimate liberal: he was tolerant, loving, peaceful, and helped the less fortunate. Christianity has devolved into a springboard for intolerance, hatred, and bigotry. And the right-wing zealots in Congress work very hard to further hurt the poor and downtrodden to make themselves and their friends even richer. Don't confuse Jesus' teachings with Christianity.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:41 am |
  10. laskerknight

    Pure Dogma. at it's best....

    May 3, 2012 at 7:01 am |
  11. Kebos

    Religion – the root of all evil.

    There's good material out there for anyone willing to approach religion with an open mind in order to realize it as the fraud it is.
    1) Richard Dawkins video – The Root of All Evil
    2) Sam Harris book – The End Of Faith
    3) Richard Dawkins book – The God Delusion
    4) Christopher Hitchen book – god is not great
    5) CJ Werleman book – god hates you, hate him back
    6) Christopher Hitchen videos – Any youtube videos of his debates
    7) Great Christina – Why Are Atheists So Angry?

    May 3, 2012 at 7:01 am |
    • Jerry

      You listed some books?

      Tell me more about how YOU have the truth...

      May 3, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • MalcolmXcrement

      The hatred in your heart, coupled with your arrogance, makes me sad.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • ReasonableChristianity

      Ah, the New Atheism cult.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:53 am |
  12. MalcolmXcrement

    Bullying is an effective tool to correct effeminate and anti-social behaviour in children. We have gotten away from it, which explains why we have so many misfit gay and goth children today.
    Many of you who are straight should thank people like me for setting you straight at an early age. Wise up!!

    May 3, 2012 at 6:58 am |
    • SensibleJoe

      Balderdash. Your name befits your thinking (or lack thereof).

      May 3, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • Anthro

      I honestly hope you are being sarcastic.

      Bullying is wrong. Period.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:06 am |
  13. Walker

    Organized religions are dangerous cults and should be eliminated. People need to be educated, not indoctrinated.

    May 3, 2012 at 6:53 am |
    • lefty

      "People need to be educated, not indoctrinated" Very nice...I'm going to use that

      May 3, 2012 at 7:28 am |
  14. LadyChristian

    The only reason this so called pastor is apologizing/retracting:
    1) Money
    2) Lawsuits (Money)
    3) Fear of getting in trouble for pushing a political agenda, and losing the non-profit no-tax status. (Money)

    May 3, 2012 at 6:47 am |
  15. Name*Chedar

    What this pastor did is to incite violence rather than to teach tolerance and compassion? It's not very Christian indeed. It's more Satan preaching his congregation. And his flock is being lead to hell'.

    May 3, 2012 at 6:46 am |
  16. KRA

    Too much hate talk and judging. We are all human beings and what makes one different to the next is to be embraced, not rejected. Being gay is one difference, there are many others. As long as people are respectful and considerate to one another then no crime is committed. I believe this is all a bunch of hate talk and is wholly unnecessary. People have been arrested for inciting hate along other lines, I think this falls into a similar category.

    May 3, 2012 at 6:46 am |
  17. martog

    Rather than inculcating our children with the primary-color simple Sunday school legends and myths most people do, might I suggest the following ten comandments to enable them to think for themselves.
    1. DO NOT automatically believe something just because a parent, priest, rabbi or minister tells you that you must.
    2. DO NOT think that claims about magic and the supernatural are more likely true because they are written in old books. That makes them less likely true.
    3. DO analyze claims about religion with the same critical eye that you would claims about money, political positions or social issues.
    4. DO NOT accept it when religious leaders tell you it is wrong to question, doubt or think for yourself. It never is. Only those selling junk cars get frightened when you want to "look under the hood".
    5. DO decouple morality from a belief in the supernatural, in any of its formulations (Christianity, Judaism, Islam etc.). One can be moral without believing in gods, ghosts and goblins and believing in any of them does not make one moral.
    6. DO a bit of independent research into whatever book you were brought up to believe in. Who are its authors and why should I believe them in what they say? How many translations has it gone through? Do we have originals, or only edited copies of copies of copies– the latter is certainly true for every single book in the Bible.
    7. DO realize that you are only a Christian (or Hindu or Jew) because of where you were born. Were you lucky enough to be born in the one part of the World that “got it right”?
    8. DO NOT be an apologist or accept the explanation “your mind is too small to understand the greatness of god” or “god moves in mysterious ways” when you come upon logical inconsistencies in your belief. A retreat to mysticism is the first refuge of the cornered wrong.
    9. DO understand where your religion came from and how it evolved from earlier beliefs to the point you were taught it. Are you lucky enough to be living at that one point in history where we “got it right”?
    10. DO educate yourself on the natural Universe, human history and the history of life on Earth, so as to be able to properly evaluate claims that a benevolent, mind-reading god is behind the whole thing.
    I sometimes think that, if we first taught our children these simple guidelines, any religion or other supernatural belief would be quickly dismissed by them as quaint nostalgia from a bygone era. I hope we get there as a species.

    May 3, 2012 at 6:42 am |
    • Qi

      "There are none so blind as those who WILL not see"

      May 3, 2012 at 6:48 am |
    • Terry

      Bottom line: These churches need to stop Cousins Marrying Cousins.

      May 3, 2012 at 6:49 am |
    • John Bottom

      Love it! Posting to my FB wall!

      May 3, 2012 at 6:50 am |
    • Name*Chedar

      If the congregation are smart to analyzed as you think. Unfortunately, most people are gullible.

      May 3, 2012 at 6:50 am |
    • Free Thinker

      and the 11th and 12th commandments...
      11) Study transitional fossils
      12) Read Darwin – "On The Origin of Species"

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

      and please let all of the above happen in my lifetime......I would like to have some hope for the future of humanity before I die.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • GySgtG

      nature doesn't have gay. educate yourself.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  18. CCC

    I must have missed those subtle clues, (flicking of the wrist) when my 22 yr. old son was growing up. When he came out at 17 years old, I was shocked. Dang if only I had seen "it" coming. I could have beat the crap out of him adding to his internal pain of being different. I could have added parental abandonment, child abuse etc. etc. Instead I embraced him as I always had, loved him unconditionally and admired him even more for his strength of character and honesty.

    May 3, 2012 at 6:35 am |
    • LadyChristian

      Love to you and your son. Real Christians don't hate!

      May 3, 2012 at 6:39 am |
    • sick of republican phonies

      Lady christian: Nice sentiment. Why don't you stand up and tell the militant christers posing as christians this? They're the ones that are doing the hating- address them. As long as "real christians" stand by and say NOTHING, you are abetting theseignorant blowhards.

      May 3, 2012 at 6:48 am |
    • Bob

      You would have done better to shoot him in the head than have him taking it up the butt! Love your son yes, but don't love his perversion! That's all it is! If he was gay at birth as many claim they are, then you or your wife had to be gay also right? Isn't that the way DNA works? You get what your parents give you? So which was it in your case, you or your wife? Our children are always going to make mistakes and we have to love them regardless. But we don't have to love their mistakes! Telling them it's ok just reinforces their missguided feelings! Wake up Dad, you just made your son gay!

      May 3, 2012 at 7:09 am |
    • Cure The Sickness

      You do realize that his activities will most likely damage his ability to drop deuces in the toilet like a real human being, right? As a parent, you should have protected him and let him know his activities are wrong.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • NotaWingnut

      Thank you for caring for your son. So many young gays are rejected by their parents, causing them even more emotional problems then the already hard time most have just dealing with being different !!

      May 3, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • WASP

      @bob: well atleast we now know that you have no grasp on the genetics nor an understanding of the process of gestation of a fetus. congrats you win the id10t award. please educate yourself before posting ignorance.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • rdeleys

      @ Bob - Are you nuts? I guess when it comes to perverted religions, you are the one who "took it up the butt". What archaic ideas!

      May 3, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • lefty

      @ Bob- you're just a troll.....go away

      @ Cure the sickness- please put down your bible and do some research before posting....opening your mind just a little bit wouldn't hure either

      May 3, 2012 at 7:42 am |
  19. Atheist

    The evil of Christianity.

    May 3, 2012 at 6:35 am |
  20. D V

    People may be born this way, but they could definitely be cured of their sickness.

    May 3, 2012 at 6:35 am |
    • John Bottom

      What is the medical procedure for transforming a gay person straight?
      How dumb are you? I know you are making your community proud, but you are all wrong. Luckily Obama will win again and further gay rights. America the tolerant! Just Go live your life the way you want and leave everyone else alone.
      The anti gays really sound a lot like Jew hating nazis..."za jew rats must be destroyed" sounds a lot like your campaign of hatred... And yes I am Jewish! And so was your God!

      May 3, 2012 at 6:41 am |
    • Realist

      I agree.. people may be born with a predilection toward being religious, but proper education and compassion can surely cure them of their hateful and immoral ways. 😛

      Can I get an "amen"?

      May 3, 2012 at 6:43 am |
    • mark

      @realist: amen 🙂 perhaps we can cure left handed people too esp with the wrist cracking...

      May 3, 2012 at 6:51 am |
    • norm62

      Cured of their sickness? And what sickness would that be? Being a person? And how would suggest we accomplish this? I could use a big stick, or perhaps a bat. You guys have enough firearms down there, that shouldn't be a problem either. Or perhaps using my car and leave them at the side of the road, like roadkill, because apparently that is the opinion you have of that segment of our population.

      You guys keep going on about "separation of church and state", well, put your money where your mouth is – stop mucking about with trying to define what your religious-based opinion has to say about marriage. Two people love each other, let them get hitched!

      And, for the record, I'm straight... and I guess, more "enlightened", if I can accept and embrace this concept. Does this make me a "better Christian" than you?

      May 3, 2012 at 7:02 am |
    • Landon S

      @realist amen brother, I was cured of religion myself. A physics class and asking myself "how do I want to be remembered?" fixed me right up.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • mdreader

      Your comment is full of ignorance. Please explain this cure and it cannot include finding the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart or some other nonsense that has brought you folks to this place of hate in the first place.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:28 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.