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. InCT_USEDTOvacationInNC

    Unfortunately, like so many others, he's not sorry, just apologetic. He's not sorry he made the comment, just sorry that he got caught saying it and that there's negative backlash. Maybe It's just me being cynical, but I'd guess for every person that's against what he did say, there are thousands more that either overtly or covertly believe what he said.

    IMHO, that's what we get when a species that believes it's above all others, chooses (or feels it needs) to believe that right and wrong must be dictated by an even higher being.

    As a gay man, I struggle knowing that there are so SO many out there that would see me beaten, imprisoned, killed, "converted" because of what man's interpretation of what their "god" said. I can see why so many teens commit suicide.

    I'm pretty sure this'll get me plenty of "pity party" responses. To you, your callousness is what is wrong with us "vaulted above all others".

    May 3, 2012 at 8:03 am |
  2. ChildofGod


    May 3, 2012 at 8:02 am |
  3. Alina1

    Just kick the gay out of them 🙂 This really sad.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • Kendall

      Yes, punch them if they're boys. And if they're girls you are going to make them act like girls and force them to "smell good, dress up and be attractive." What and idiot.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  4. n8263

    Religion is unhealthy and dangerous.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:01 am |
  5. Km Koesler

    “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.???
    So now he can add lying to his list of sins.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:00 am |
  6. Dana

    Way to spread the hate.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:00 am |

    he kinda gives me the creeps......

    May 3, 2012 at 7:58 am |
  8. pdale

    He's only sorry he got caught on video and audio is now going to have to endure the grief that is coming his way. It is sad to say but I think a lot of Southerns feel that you should beat your kids if they don't conform to gender roles. I know live about an hour from this church so don't even go there...

    May 3, 2012 at 7:58 am |
  9. Lisa

    The pastor got the apology all WRONG. He shouldn't be worried that his remarks would "offend" the LGBT community - he should apologize that his remarks might lead to physical harm or persecution of young people. He should be apologizing at preaching violence instead of Christian love and understanding. No where in the New Testament does Christ suggest beating anyone into submission or change - QUITE the opposite.

    May 3, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I say to you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. As for my enemies who do not want me to reign over them, bring them here and kill them in my presence" Luke 19:26-27

      "Do not think that I have come to send peace on Earth. I did not come to send peace, but a sword. I am sent to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" Matthew 10:34-35

      May 3, 2012 at 8:06 am |
  10. Cure The Sickness

    If you support "the community" then you aren't a real Christian because the Bible tells us that the choice to do people of the same gender is a sin.

    May 3, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • Dana

      People in the "community" wrote that nonsense in the first place silly. Get some common sense.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • Lisa

      The Bible first and foremost tells us to love one another. Christ also preached to look at the log in our OWN eye, before condemning the splinter in our neighbors. Christ preached forgiveness not condemnation. That was the Romans who crucified Him on the cross - The Gospel message is clear - love is stronger than hate, worry about your own sin first, live in love and charity, and the rest will take care of itself. I see nowhere in the New Testament that Christ condemns anyone but the religious zealots in the Temple who took money and privileges to themselves and overlooked the needy and suffering.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • Andrew

      The bible was not written by god, it was written by man.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • Kendall

      You are an idiot.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:09 am |
    • atheist fred

      The bible also tells us to kill adulterers and disobedient children. It's time for you christians to get to killin'

      May 3, 2012 at 8:17 am |
  11. Scott

    That's what kills me. The "Christians" come out in droves to tell everyone how right it is to beat and kill gays. Just like it's okay to murder people at abortion clinics, huh? This is why religion is dangerous. The continual backward logis is astounding. Like the moron on the DNA issue, the brain is physically wired differently. They can't change that any more than you can change your hair color. Sure you can cover it up with dye, but you will never be able to change what you are. If you do not believe this, nothing will convince you, but I provide a link for your education anyway: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1815538,00.html

    As I told my brother in law, I'm not very religious, but my God accepts all for who they are. He is a loving and caring God who does not discriminate. Who's God would you rather believe in?

    Lastly, all you Christians who think you have a reserved place in heaven, think again. For it clearly states in the bible that only the chosen people, the Jewish, have that claim. The bible also states there are only so may seats in heaven and that only after the chosen people have arrived, others may fill the void. So all you "holier than thou" christians who like to force your views on everyone else in the name of morality, you might want to really read the bible. This is America, stop trying to force your views on us! Go away, no one is trying to keep you from drinking nbeer and shooting deer from the driveway of your double-wide, so leave us alone!

    May 3, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • Cure The Sickness

      Telling us that we HAVE TO ACCEPT something like "man on man" love isn't "forcing views?" Read your own words and eat them. You are a perverse person.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:00 am |
    • sam stone

      cure: who is saying you HAVE TO accept anything? you are free to be as bigoted as you wish. what you are not free to do is deny people their rights based on your bigotry.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:04 am |
  12. BostonMonkey

    Who the hell does this guy think he is? What a loser that "pastor" is. And what's worse is that he attracts mindless sheep that will listen to him. That's the scary part.

    I guess the days are gone when you should love your child unconditionally? Nice to see he's preaching love and forgiveness and whatnot .

    May 3, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • Andrew

      Ask yourself, what gays would Jesus punch.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:01 am |
  13. Gawd

    Why do people continue to go to church and give money to these child molesters?

    May 3, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • FlyingSpaghettiMonster

      Because they're afraid of their own mortality. Religion preys on man's insecurities...which is why any group of religious adherents is comprised mostly of insecure zealots who believe and act irrationally. These people are literally scared to death by manipulative puppet masters like the one featured in this story.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:07 am |
  14. n8263

    No wonder Mother Teresa died an athiest.

    May 3, 2012 at 7:55 am |
  15. Dan

    I can't wait to find out this pastor is gay.

    May 3, 2012 at 7:55 am |
  16. Jesus Christ

    Nah – don't call 'em names. Shatter their wrist bones: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/02/north-carolina-pastor-retracts-sermon-remarks-about-punching-gay-kids/?hpt=hp_t2

    May 3, 2012 at 7:54 am |
  17. Dan

    People use this man-made piece of fiction for any purpose they want. It's tiring. Grow up people and use some reasoning and common sense.

    May 3, 2012 at 7:53 am |
  18. flickerman

    He's no better than a Taliban. Pure evil. Look what vermin the church attracts. When Jesus learned of this oratory perversion he was heard to say " Oh my God!" to which God responded " That's you my son. Look what they're doing in your name."

    May 3, 2012 at 7:49 am |
  19. Keith

    TP, Just thought I'd put this front and center this morning so the blog can see how "tolerant" you are:TruthPrevails 🙂

    @The Champ: Thank you for pointing out that the lunatic lives a mere 5 hours from me and in the same province as my sweet innocent niece. I'll be warning my niece to keep her toddler far away from this loon and hoping that Sympatico takes down the site for hate speech...sending the info off to some old friends in charge of dismantling sites like his.

    May 2, 2012 at 8:52 am |


    TP, you said:
    We happen to have higher standards that you do and we do not wish for our children to see such hate filled sites, so it is better to have them removed all together.
    Who the hell are YOU to determine what the "standards" are? Who the hell are YOU to have freedom of expression removed? YOU are an arrogant cuss aren't you?

    May 2, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |


    The administrators of that school should be fired. Honor students who begin to pray or mention God at graduation ceremonies have their microphones turned off immediately! No such thing with this in-your-face qu-eer. Anyone involved with this should be fired. If the church had had the balls 20 years ago to stand up to this nonsense, we wouldn't have to deal with the Dan Sava.ges of today-but hold on-it's going to get much much worse.

    May 2, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |


    TP, you said: sending the info off to some old friends in charge of dismantling sites like his.:
    Don't forget to have your 'old friends' break his kneecaps or shoot him in the back of the head and kick him in a shallow grave...
    I find it telling that you admit to having 'old friends' who are actually in charge of repressing freedom of speech. Yeah, like I said before, keep your messed up Canadian laws and goofy communist ideas in Canada. I had no idea how intolerant communism real was.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:33 pm | 0

    May 3, 2012 at 7:48 am |
    • Keith

      Almost forgot this part:

      TruthPrevails 🙂

      "Keep your repressive laws north of the border. You are truly evil to the core, TP."

      You're a delusional child Keith. This is an international website and regardless of how much I may hurt your feelings, I will continue to come here. AvdBerg happens to be Canadian, so my point stands. I'm far from evil moron. I do not wish harm upon anyone like you and your god do-that is the true definition of evil. We happen to have higher standards that you do and we do not wish for our children to see such hate filled sites, so it is better to have them removed all together. I understand the truth and reality frighten you child but it is time to live in the 21st century and throw away your 2000 year old book. Now go takes your meds little one...we'd like some quiet on the blog.

      May 2, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |

      May 3, 2012 at 7:55 am |
    • atheist fred

      what the fuck is this all about

      May 3, 2012 at 8:25 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Old news Keith but that is not surprising given that you base your life off a book written 2000 years ago. You can try to expose me all you wish but you remain clueless and yes AvdBerg's site is being monitored...not because of freedom of speech but for the hate speech it spews. You can keep trying to spew your delusions but you're really not worthy of any more of my time. Speak to me when you live in accordance to the laws and evidence of the century we reside in, until then your opinion does not matter to me.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      @atheist fred: It's Keith's attempt to expose me on something said yesterday...it has no pertinence to the article at hand.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)


      The administrators of that school should be fired. Honor students who begin to pray or mention God at graduation ceremonies have their microphones turned off immediately! No such thing with this in-your-face qu-eer. Anyone involved with this should be fired. If the church had had the balls 20 years ago to stand up to this nonsense, we wouldn't have to deal with the Dan Sava.ges of today-but hold on-it's going to get much much worse."

      And your own comment here Keith doesn't speak to taking away one's freedom of speech? Grow up and look in the mirror before calling me intolerant. I simply made a comment that you blew out of proportion and if I offended anyone (outside of you) I apologize.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:36 am |
    • Keith

      No apology necessary. I'm GLAD you said it because you expose yourself and convict yourself-you are your own worst enemy, thankfully. You make one of my points, "hate speech" is a crime in Canada-not in the US, yet. Some of us would like to keep it that way. Keep your oppressive communist laws north of the border.
      Fred, this was regarding an exchange on the Dan Sav.age article in which TP was practically salivating on her keyboard in hopes of shutting this guy's site down-because TP deemed it easier to do so than debate him. TP is a LIAR and a HYPOCRITE of the highest order. Ask her about freedom of speech/expression-or better yet, just look at what she has blogged.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Keith: I was not apologizing to you. You need to look in the mirror idiot! Your belief system is full of hypocrisy. In life I don't go around telling people who they can and can't love or using the threat of eternal suffering...those are things you are good at doing...so before judging me (a clear sin in your buybull), you may wish to look at how you yourself speaks to people on this blog. I stand by the fact that AvdBerg is full of hate and so is his website and anyone who cares should be reporting his site...it does not promote anything healthy for society.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Keith

      TP, Furthermore, your "old friends" are "in charge", denotes a structural heirarchy. Someone in that heirarchy put them "in charge". It shows that your "old friends" are part of an organization that apparently by your own admissioin is repressing what we call here in America-the 1st Amendment to the United States Consti.tution. You know what I think? I think you and your "old friends" are communist trash. And it doesn't change the FACT that if you die in your sins without the shed blood of Jesus Christ covering your sins, then you will burn for eternity in the lake of fire. Myself and others say this to warn you-not to gleefully celebrate you frying for eternity.
      Eze 33:11 Say unto them, [As] I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

      May 3, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Keith

      TP, The next obvious question is where do you and Atheist Steve fit into this organization(he's probably cussing you out right now for spilling the beans)? This much I know: Satan is the head, but how does it break down after that?

      May 3, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  20. 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 7:48 am |
    • flickerman

      Remember the Inquisition and ask: Which religion has brought more unspeakable evil in the world in the guise of a Godly mission. Is it Buddism, Hinduism, Christianity ( Crusades holocaust) Islam (perfectors of terrorism as a defense mechanism for their poor self image) or Judaism which seems to provoke evil in others. Or Unitarians who seem to be above it all in their behavior exhibiting tolerance for all true Christians who aren't regarded as Christians. What a ft up world. Thanks pastor for enlightening us.

      May 3, 2012 at 7:57 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.