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. wcb2009

    This is exactly why religion is dying in this country. Because it is becoming a self-serviing sham that in this case is promoting child abuse. This man has know idea what Jesus taught. He only knows the BS put fourth by those that came after Jesus. If there is a hell, he will certainly be in line for preaching violence, hate, and intolerance in the name of christ.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:01 am |
  2. Marc

    This apology by the pastor is not enough. His remarks essentially direct persons of his congregation to violence against other persons who in his view exhibit possible gay behaviour. This is in my view, an unlawful attempt to persecute a minority through physical intimidation and should be subject to the most rigerous prosecution through the laws of the state.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      Dont worry...the church has been protected from the law for a while now....doubt that will change anytime soon

      May 3, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Dave, CA

      And what a pathetic "apology" too. The GOP thumpers need to learn that "I'm sorry you were offended." is NOT an apology. I hear there's odds in Vegas about this poor excuse for a human being getting caught in an airport men's room for having a "wide-stance".

      May 3, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  3. paul

    The funny thing is, about half the gay guys I know could snap this tubby "pastor" in half like a twig...

    May 3, 2012 at 8:56 am |
  4. jason

    This is another of the reasons why I don't go to church or believe any of "the good book". Thankfully I wasn't brainwashed that the bible was the be-all/end-all and never thought this way. There's no significant difference between the people that support this idiot in the comments and islamic terrorists ...

    May 3, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • Thom

      The reason you don't go to Church is because people suck? Do you even go anywhere? The bank? The mall? A family reunion? There are reasons to not be a Christian, but the fact that people are awful isn't one of them. In fact, original sin is sort of the basis of the Christian theories!

      May 3, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  5. Little Greek Boy

    I ran away from home because I didn't like the way I was being reared. But I came back because I couldn't bear to leave my brothers behind.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:53 am |
  6. n8263

    So is it ok to punch 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 8:53 am |
  7. steve


    May 3, 2012 at 8:53 am |
  8. Rhonda

    Hitting gay kids won't make them straight....just battered or dead

    May 3, 2012 at 8:51 am |
  9. Hugh Jass

    This is based on the simple fact that he finds gayness to be an 'attractive' lifestyle, meaning he's a closet case himself. Pastor, for most of us it's like wanting to date circus clowns: bizarre and a complete deal-breaker. Why is it so important for these guys to pretend it's a" choice?" Who'd choose that? Not attractive at all, and slapping a guy's wrist isn't going to stop him from looking at girls either.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:50 am |
  10. Philojazz

    What about the REAL problem? What do you do if your son says he wants to become a PASTOR?

    May 3, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • Hugh Jass

      "What do you do if your son says he wants to become a PASTOR?" Apply your shoe to the fleshy part of his buttocks.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:52 am |
  11. allens

    why the shock. thyis is what good christians act like. hard to decide who judges more, good christians or god.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:47 am |
  12. Mark

    "...the truth of the Word of God ...
    What a dweeb. PROVE your god exists,
    then you can call what you say truth.
    Belief isn't truth, otherwise there'd be
    only one belief.
    Remember what country you live in.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:46 am |
  13. Dan

    Religion has been slowly destroying the world since its inception.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:46 am |
  14. GodIzForLosers

    Jesus' entourage was exclusively male; he preferred the company of guys - sounds pretty gay to me.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:45 am |
  15. n8263

    NC voters, remember this pastor next week when you vote on the marriage amendment.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:45 am |
  16. Get Real

    And because the discipline has gone from the American lifestyle, we have boys trying to be girls and girls wanting to be boys....Face it people....The kids are screwed up!

    May 3, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • Hugh Jass

      "And because the discipline has gone from the American lifestyle, we have boys trying to be girls and girls wanting to be boys"

      Right, and this only happens in America and has only just begun recently? Dance for us, monkey. You are a clown for our amusement.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:57 am |
    • Ozymandias71

      Ah, so you agree with this 'pastor' – smack the kids around, that'll fix 'em right?

      May 3, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Primewonk

      Sèxual orientation is innate. You cannot make a gay kid straight, and you cannot make a straight kid gay.

      Not sure why you fundiots are unable/unwilling to understand this.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      @Primewonk: They live in a bubble and no matter how much sense things may seem to us, to them it is too frightening to handle. I'd love to know how these people saying that being gay is a choice and not natural would handle it if their own child happened to be gay...would they disown the child? Force them to attend Michelle Bachman's husbands clinic? Beat them? Call in the priest/pastor/minister to have some form of exorcism done? Pray? Belittle them constantly for being who they are until they were so tired of the abuse that they lie and say they are not gay?

      May 3, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  17. Robert Martin

    What do you expect from moronic Baptists?

    May 3, 2012 at 8:44 am |
    • Kay

      Not much.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:55 am |
  18. ilvpitz

    Wow. So horrible what this pastor did. Shows he has hate and prejudice in his heart. More than likely there was a family or two in that congregation with a gay child whom they love. I doubt they felt good after hearing their pastor tell them to punch their child. Probably felt a little nervous that people around them that know about their child would come and punch their kid as well like some sort of justified mob. You can't punch gayness out of anybody. Just not possible. You can't help it if you're gay. I wish so many would stop saying that you can. Who in the world would choose to be gay? It's certainly not a glamarous life when you've got pastors telling parents to punch their gay kids and all the other horrible ways people treat you when you're gay. Horrible pastor.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  19. mfx3

    What's really pathetic is, aside from the fact that he said it, he probably got a standing ovation after doing so from the congregation.

    May 3, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • Ozymandias71

      There were people applauding, laughing and yelling 'AMEN!' when he said all those horrible things... great 'Christian' witness, amiright?

      May 3, 2012 at 9:31 am |
  20. Jay

    HA.. "Give em a good punch".... HAHAHAHAHA Im sorry.. that was just funny...... LOL

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

      You have a strange sense of humor.

      May 3, 2012 at 8:53 am |
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