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. We Forgot

    It always makes me so sad to hear about people in the USA working so hard to take away the freedoms of other people in this country. How insecure do you have to be to deny two consenting adults a legal right that most people already have? If you think your stance is more moral, how about you convince them to act that way on the strength of your argument, rather than using tyranny of the majority to legislate your beliefs. I thought free will was a core principal in the Bible.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  2. Voice of Reason

    child abuse |tʃaɪld əˈbjuz|
    physical maltreatment or se.xual molestation of a child.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  3. JJC

    Religion by its very nature is violent and supressive. It turns the world into us (the saved) and them (the ones who don't believe the same). The real tragedy is not only the pastor but the congregation that laughed at this, all while sitting in a church. Stop the hate, say to to religion and indoctrination of any sort.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • HHR

      Religion is a creation of mankind to control the rest of mankind. I think it is interesting that even Jesus spoke very strongly against the religious establishment for the very same reasons that many are writing in this blog.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  4. typical

    We hear what they mean, and then they back pedal. But the message is clear. He can call it a joke if he wants, but he would never ever say to "smack your mother around if she doesn't go to bible school." That joke isn't funny is it. Neither is this one. The pastor needs to think a little more deeply about jokes, intentions and outcomes.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  5. Mike on the Gulf

    He's just jealous because gays are FABULOUS and he's so boring.....

    May 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Liberace

      Late at night he dresses up in women's clothing and has someone slap him around and so "You are a very naughty boy!!" He pays good money for that.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  6. Mike

    The apostles of ignorance are at it again. Religion purports to be the moral fabric of our society, but in reality, it is morally impoverished, and serves only to tear society apart.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  7. gnodges

    One day we will find out that Mr. Harris is gay, but religion gave him so much guilt about it, that he repressed his orientation, and became vehemently opposed to anything gay, lest he be temped......it will all fall apart for him, sooner or later, though. Right, Ted?

    May 2, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  8. Voice of Reason

    hate crime
    a crime motivated by racial, se.xual, or other prejudice, typically one involving violence.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  9. lindajerry

    Religion does it again. If we could eliminate organized religion, you wouldn't have to listen to ignorant and amoral folk like this quasi-Reverend type. And if the media would simply disregard such garbage, and let it remain inside his church, we'd all be the better for it. And you might ask the good Reverend why Jesus was never married. Most Jewish young men were having families much earlier in their lives. It is conceivable (pardon the pun) that he was (dare I say it)... ? See, I didn't really say gay. Ooops!

    May 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  10. caeser

    Clearly the Pastor has a penchant for "educating" young boy's.
    I'd keep an eye on him.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  11. t3chsupport

    What's really creepy is what he said about girls. Not just acting, walking, and talking like a girl (how do you make a girl walk different? Force her into heels? That WOULD be abuse!), but SMELLING like a girl. He wants to smell your girls, and he wants to make sure you make your girls smell girlie.

    That's full on pedobear.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  12. Why_Bother

    I like when he says God made you a male and your going to be a male. If that boy has a penis...he is male no matter what. What a piece of trash

    May 2, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Danno

      Why are you so concerned about other peoples genitals? Live your own life and mind your own business.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  13. Rod C. Venger

    The good reverend is right. You see your boy wagging his dick at passing cars, you knock him upside the head and say "No!". You catch him playing doctor with a little girl, same thing. You catch him playing doctor with a little BOY, you thump him twice as hard. Kids have to learn right from wrong.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Rod C. Venger

      And if Child Protective Services ever lets me have my children back, that is what I'm gonna do to them!

      May 2, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • momoya

      yeah, because the world is like a checkerboard, black and white, good and bad..

      May 2, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • maxingermany

      you're an idiot

      May 2, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • mcleod

      Back to your cave, man.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • caeser

      I was in the restaurant yesterday and could hear a woman's voice in a low but commanding whisper say "That's not a sucker" only to turn and see a little boy licking a hot dog...I think he's going to be gay.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "You catch him playing doctor with a little BOY, you thump him twice as hard. Kids have to learn right from wrong."

      The experts around the world disagree with you. They have proven that being gay is not a choice, it's not a mental illness and it can't be voluntarily changed.

      The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  14. momoya

    Has anyone else noticed that the ti.tle of this article is a lie if it reports the pastor's remark correctly?

    May 2, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • just sayin


      May 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  15. ricky

    daddy tried to beat the gay out of me. didn't work

    May 2, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  16. Mark

    I'm a straight male, and don't particularly like being around "gay acting" males, or gays. Still, I would never advocate violence against them, or a child.
    I am a straight male made by evolution. There is no god. These )(^*%*&%& religious nuts should be penalized under the law.
    Anybody who still goes to church, donates money to churches, is just funding psychological terrorism. They are also apparently very uneducated and downright stupid, with all that science has taught us by this point in history. Tax the churches!!!!!!! Lock up the child abusers. Forcing a child to go to church, forcing a child into a RELIGION IS CHILD ABUSE.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • HHR

      Not all Christians behave that way. American Christianity has gone way off the charts with violence and intolerant speaking. One of the Bible's greatest people, Paul, made this statement, "When possible, live peaceably with all men." Obviously, this pastor is not reading his own Bible.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Show me the evidence

      You sound like a wacko. You can't prove there's no God anymore than I can prove there is one. Are you an expert on child abuse? Furthermore, your job as a parent is to force your kids to do things they don't like from time to time. That may mean go to church, or clean your room, or eat your vegetables........on and on and on.......that doesn't mean your abusing them.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Show me the evidence

      HHR, Paul also said, "24Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

      25Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

      26For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

      27And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

      But I realize the non-believers pick and choose the verses they want to support their cause.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "But I realize the non-believers pick and choose the verses they want to support their cause."

      Christians take the cake on it when it come to the gay issue, especially since those scriptures have nothing to do with gays as we know and understand it today.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • jo

      Show me the evidence: So you have beaten your wife, daughters and slaves today?
      You made a sacrifice today? The old testament tells you to do this. Why have you not done it?

      If not, then please do not say that non-believers pick and choose what they want to believe.

      (in the voice of the wicked witch) How about a couple of 10 Commandments scarecrow??
      Did you go to work so you could earn money for that vacation, tv, car etc that you are lusting over? Or that house that you had to get to show your (fake) status. (false idol)

      You did not check out the cute guy/ga?l (lust)

      May 2, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  17. Mike

    I did it for the lulz – God

    May 2, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  18. florida guy

    I was raised in a souther baptist church and my partner's father is a deacon of a small community old line baptist church,
    you would never hear him say such nonsense. This man is no more educated that some of his flock. Peace be with them if they ever need to be treated by a gay doctor or nurse at a critical moment in their life. May they have a blessing and some education in the real world.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  19. Mike

    He should have advised the parents to abort the fetus.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  20. crusader12

    Funny, this guy has probably fondled little boys since he first began serving God.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • mcleod

      Yep, it will be interesting to see the ghosts that fall out of his fundamentalist closet...eventually.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • just sayin

      And I wouldn't be surprised if he gets caught in a bathroom....he is Southern and has purdy lips.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
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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.