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. stacey

    I am a BAC. I find this horrifying. If a pastor/priest ever said anything like that in a church that I was at, I would walk out. I have 2 boys. Both of my boys are straight. At any given time during their growth/maturation process they have exhibited feminine/ gay behaviors. For 2 years my youngest loved pink. My sister has a photo of my brother in law skipping the bases in 7th grade at his baseball game. They are not gay they are straight. What if I whapped them everytime they did something that I perceived as gay? You can't beat it out of them. They are what they are. Have you ever heard middle schoolers talking? That would be a lot of hitting.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:41 am |
  2. n8263

    This pastor is a great example of why gay marriage needs to be legal in NC.

    If this pastor's neighbors were a married gay couple if he might have a different outlook.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:37 am |
  3. Craig Doug

    Gay is NOT the way!!!

    May 3, 2012 at 8:37 am |
    • PulTab

      Neither is intolerant, b i g o t e d, and s t u p i d.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • Primewonk

      Gay is not the way – if you aren't gay. Just like straight is not the way if you are not straight.

      Perhaps if you spent less time (t)hûmping your bible and more time cracking open science journals, you wouldn't make such inane posts.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  4. Dude

    What people are forgetting here is there's actually people in the audience listening to this absolute joke of a human being! We should focus all of our resources and energy in this world to get rid of ANYONE who preaches this hatred! I'm not fond of religion, but if I claimed to be religious, I'd call for the immediate deportation of this idiot and all of his ilk to the bottom of say, a volcano so the can actually experience the wrath of HELL!

    May 3, 2012 at 8:36 am |
  5. Those used guys.

    Kind of makes it clear why the area is called the bible 'Belt'.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:35 am |
  6. jim atmadison


    What Four Year Old Would Jesus Beat Up?

    May 3, 2012 at 8:35 am |
  7. jlf

    he meant what he said,just apologizing because of the harm his comments could create.all that matters is,we are all cequal in God's eyes.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • n8263

      That depends on the god and it depends on people's subjective view of that god. Religion is arbitrary and dangerous.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:40 am |
  8. Surfer George

    You can't beat the gay out of anyone.

    Do you think it might be possible to beat the StupidIgnorantRedNeck out of the pastor? I think someone should find out and explain why as they do.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • foxfire

      This pastor is a poor excuse to be spreading new of the Bible. He probably bought his degree. There is no hope of these ignorant people.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • Hugh Jass

      Someone should beat the accreditation out of whoever gave him his degree. Has he even read the Bible? His whole denomination should be on the carpet.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:59 am |
  9. jtainfla

    Thataboy!! Another good christian! This guy is out to hurt other people, you know just like Jesus would do!!

    May 3, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • larper2

      He who spares his rod hates his son,
      But he who loves him disciplines him promptly. Proverbs 13:24

      May 3, 2012 at 8:36 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      And he who uses any form of physical discipline is a child abuser!

      May 3, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "He who spares his rod hates his son,
      But he who loves him disciplines him promptly. Proverbs 13:24"

      Thanks for quoting a book written by ancient men. Anything substantial you would like to include in this conversation? Or are you just going to copy and paste bible verses?

      May 3, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • JT

      Psalm 137:9 – Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Primewonk

      And remember Larper – you can stone your unruly kids. And you can sell your daughter to your neighbor and he can use her for a se.x slave. I hope you have thick windows so you don't hear her scream at night as she is ràped.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  10. rational

    This is a very sad argument. God loves the sinner but hates the sin. God does not hate the Gay individual more than he hates the lying individual or the fornicator. God never intended for this world to be this way and as long as Christians use the Bible to condemn instead of enlighten we will never fulfill God's purpose for our life. "The Problem is SIN not people" I would hate to be the one to see God face to face and tell Him that I was the one that condemn & hurt the person he created because of my religion not my relationship. Christians stop Quoting and live it and let God work through you to change hearts.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:29 am |
    • sam stone

      speaking for god, are we?

      May 3, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • PulTab

      You can't call yourself "rational", and then go into some religious diatribe. The two are mutually exclusive.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • rational

      Never said I speak for God..... read for yourself. but most people read out of context and make the scripture fit their needs. And to the person speaking about my use of rational " possibly poor chose of words" but I see so many Christians use the Bible as their crutch and a way to spew opinions that are out of context and simply not biblical. My prayer is that all find a true relationship with God and allow him to prune them to be more like Him.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • God

      Aw, don't speak for me. You know I'm all about the hitting and the stabbing and the cities burned to the ground. I say, hit your children all you want. Make 'em mean. Teach 'em to conceal their hearts and hide their feelings until they end up tap dancing in an airport restroom in the desperate hope of making some kind of connection with another human.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Travis

      I appreciate your words, rational, and I don't think religion and rationality are mutually exclusive. I think that idea is as closed-minded as is the pastor in the article. I am gay and a father, and I found Pastor Harris's words offensive to me in both of those roles; I would have had a terrible relationship with my parents if they had treated me the way he is advocating, and I could never let anyone treat my son in such a way. I am not particularly religious, but I do feel that if there is a God, He would want us to love each other as brothers and sisters, and if there's not a God, then I still see no harm in doing so.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • Primewonk

      "God loves the sinner but hates the sin."

      I keep seeing you folks post this. Yet, when I ask for the book, chapter, and verse from the bible where he says this, I get silence.

      Could it be because your god never said this? In fact, it's a quote from Gandhi – a Hindu. In fact, your god commands that his followers go out and KILL gay folks. Perhaps you can explain just how god commanding you kill gay folks equates to "loving" them?

      May 3, 2012 at 9:50 am |
  11. PulTab

    Pastor and NC. Nothing good can come from that combination.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:28 am |
  12. stateschool

    His unapologetic "apology" makes it abundantly clear that he stands by his advice to good Christian parents to punch the gay out of their children. Christianity – the religion of peace, love, and child abuse.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      And keeping women second class and submissive.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:30 am |
  13. jim atmadison

    Guys like this, and there are a lot of them, give us Christians a bad rap by claiming to be one of us.

    Nothing in the Bible could possibly be reasonably interpreted in the hateful manner that this guy did.

    His evil acts come from inside of himself, and not from anything to do with Christ or Christianity.

    I wish we could come up with a special name for these 100% phony 'Christians' to differentiate them from the rest of us.

    He even lies in his non-apology apology, claiming, for instance that he didn't tell parents to punch their kids. It's on tape. He said it, and then tries to lie about it.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      Obviously you selectively read the bible.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • jim atmadison

      I stand somewhat corrected, Elmer. I should have said that nothing in the New Testament could be interpreted that way.

      I look to the words of our loving Christ for my life advice, not the OT.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • Marcos H. Rivera

      One who commits apostasy (or who apostatises) is known as an apostate

      May 3, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "Nothing in the Bible could possibly be reasonably interpreted in the hateful manner that this guy did."

      Try reading your bible again...

      May 3, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • Marcos H. Rivera

      apostasy |əˈpästəsē|
      the abandonment or renunciation of a religious belief. " AS IN JESUS LOVES ME THIS I KNOW FOR THE BIBLE TELL ME SO"
      MATTHEW 19.14 But Jesus said, Allow little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Hugh Jass

      "I wish we could come up with a special name for these 100% phony 'Christians' to differentiate them from the rest of us."

      I call them "Christians."

      May 3, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • JT

      So Jim, do you not agree with the entire OT or just the most genocidel, hateful parts? You cherry pick the OT?

      May 3, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Primewonk

      Jim – Your Christ says several times in the NT that the rules and laws of the OT will remain in place until "heaven and earth pass away". As far as I can tell, the earth is still here. Thus all the sick twisted disgusting laws of your god still need to be followed.. You may not like it, but you need to start killing the gays, killing unruly kids, killing non-virgin women on their wedding nights, etc.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  14. Aeromechanic

    “I did not say anything to intentionally offend anyone in the LGBT community."

    What an idot. What did he think his words were going to do?

    When I got to that part I quit reading. Anybody who continues going to that church is a fool if only because they can't trust that their pastor believes what he says.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:28 am |
  15. scott

    People are idiots. This pastor is a case in point.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:27 am |
  16. JT

    The signs I've been seeing here in NC for several weeks says "Vote for marriage". I didn't know what that was all about until I started seeing their TV ads showing a bible and saying marriage comes directly from god. I just shook my head in dismay at the Christian bigots out there working hard to deny the same liberties they enjoy to others they feel don't deserve equality as they do. Some Christians are the worst people I've ever met. I'm so glad I'm not a part of this cult.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:27 am |
  17. Marcos H. Rivera

    the sad thing is that all of those "bankers" in Wall Street bankrupt the country and not once have I heard a WASP Preacher say Salp your banker...

    May 3, 2012 at 8:26 am |
    • Marcos H. Rivera

      ... sorry... misspelled SLAP .... AS IN SMACK IN THE FACE ...

      slap |slap|
      verb ( slapped , slapping ) [ trans. ]
      hit (someone or something) with the palm of one's hand or a flat object : my sister slapped my face.
      • [ intrans. ] hit against or into something with the sound of such an action : water slapped against the boat.
      • ( slap someone down) informal reprimand someone forcefully.
      • [ trans. ] put or apply (something) somewhere quickly, carelessly, or forcefully : slap on a bit of makeup.
      • ( slap something on) informal impose a fine or other penalty on : the government had slapped an embargo on imports.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:29 am |
  18. JC

    This idiot probably gets his teachings from the book of the mormom

    May 3, 2012 at 8:25 am |
  19. I Am Morbidly Obese And HAPPY

    Wow. Look at all of you "tolerant" atheists and your wonderful comments calling people idiots and morons. Way to lead by example.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:25 am |
    • n8263

      They are calling the pastor an idiot and a moron and a lot of Christians here agree.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • Aeromechanic

      Yep.......I agree.

      I'm a Christina and he is an idiot.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:29 am |
    • scott

      Calling someone an idiot is different from beating them. Tolerance doesn't mean you agree, it means you respect.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:29 am |
    • JanetMermaid

      Sorry, anyone who believes the fiction that is the bible, then uses it to justify beating children who don't fit into a very narrow mold, ARE idiots and morons. And it is the religious idiots and morons who have caused most of the pain and suffering in this world - "conversation by sword", the crusades, the inquisition, and today what has settled into a pervasive hatred and scorn for others whom to them are "not like us". They are the reason women are AGAIN fighting for control of their own bodies, they are the reason gays are abused and discriminated against. I'm sick to death of Christians pushing their agenda on everyone else.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • PulTab

      If the shoe fits.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      It's intolerance that we are intolerant of.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • Lola

      So on your one way street, If a christian beats their kid, a normal person can not call them a moron. How about calling them an abusive parent. That better? How about calling child protection services and getting the moron label changed to child beater? That work for ya..............

      May 3, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • JT

      It's because atheists think that ALL people should have equal liberties, not just Christians.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • Patti in Dallas

      I am a Christian and a gay American, and I too call this pastor an idiot and a moron. You cannot beat the gay away, and preaching same is neither a "joke" nor "unintentional" in its self-evident call for harm. He is but one idiotic moron, but unfortunately others follow his way of "leading by example." And I call BS on him.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • Hugh Jass

      Moron, I wasn't aware that you Christians were counting on us atheists to lead you by our example! Here's how it's gonna go: we're not leading you. Find your own way.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:51 am |
  20. Anthony Quatroni

    Another sick reigious zealot, acting sick and religious like they all do.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:25 am |
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