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. SueRH

    This is why churches are losing members in droves. Disgusting.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • mandarax

      That, and the fact that they are peddling bullshlt!

      May 3, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • JT

      That, and reason and skepticism are finally becoming fashionable.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  2. answerman28

    If you take any advice from a simpleton who honestly believes in sky faires, then you totally deserve what you get. Obviousily the man is a delusional psycho. It should be considered child abuse to brainwash a kid into believing.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:15 am |
  3. JDB

    Fayetteville, North Carolina.....how about calling it Redneckville? How about taking this so-called pastor and lining him up and letting people walk by and knock the crap out if him? The guy is an abomination and to call himself a man of God makes me physically ill.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • mandarax

      It's primarily an Air Force town. Locals call it "Fayette-nam" I would like to think that our military do not congregate this kind of church.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  4. oldbones24

    Ah, the Baptist. They support child abuse, and persecution of others. Their self-righteousness will be their down fall.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  5. Wes Scott

    Once again, a christian leader shows why the whole world should shun christianity. This man ought to be criminally charged with inciting child abuse and advocating aggravated assault on a child, both felonies in most states, though probably perfectly acceptable behavior in the hick state of North Carolina.

    Jesus' lessons of forgiveness and understanding, compassion and love, and the rest of what he taught seems to be lost on most christians today. They claim to be followers of Jesus, but almost none of them actually know what Jesus taught or what he meant. They diverged from the path that Jesus walked long ago, and they don't even know it.

    As long as they have a Bible in their hands not even a GPS would get them back on the right track. What this preacher taught was hatred for a child for some perceived "threat" to masculinity. I think the preacher is probably another Ted Haggard – limp to the core and trying to act like he is not.

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

      Well said.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:05 am |
  6. bayliee

    And this is what they call "Christianity" in the 21st Century!! The only difference between this guy's publicity stunt, and many other preachers in the pulpit is that his words were exposed to the media!! And now he will write a book and makes TONS OF MONEY!!

    May 3, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  7. Greyhound37

    Surprising that neanderthals like this still exist.
    Even more surprising is that there's a large room full of people willing to sit and listen to his hate.
    Ya kinda have to wonder why he's so hot under the collar about this issue though. Something in his closet?

    May 3, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • freedomdem

      maybe he's tired of people pushing the gay agenda on him.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Adam

      It's not too surprising. These are people who are so scared of life, that they need weekly doses of "Jesus will protect all of us" sessions given by someone who is paid to do it. It is mob mentality at it's finest. If they keep giving the "Amens" and the 10% contribution of their salary, he will keep saying the things they need to hear to feel better.

      If this was the 19th century, this would be the guy out there selling snake juice.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • sam stone

      freedomdem: the gay agenda? are equal rights part of the "gay agenda"?

      May 3, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • sam stone

      freedomdem: and a couple generations earllier, they were tired of people pushing the nigra agenda on them....culture changes.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • SueRH

      LOL! Tell us, what exactly is the "gay agenda"?

      May 3, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • Primewonk

      Ah – the old "gay agenda" line. I had wondered about this gay agenda. Then I got the chance to move the family to a fairly small rural town out west. The people were conservative – the Goldwater definition. But the town was a bit of a haven for artsy creative wine folks. And a lot of them were gay or lesbian. At one point we had lesbian couples own the houses on either side of us, and a gay couple down the block. This is what I learned about the gay agenda –

      They'd get up in the morning, like us straights. The ones with kids would get them ready for school, those wiith dogs would take them off. They would get the kids off to school and head off to work as Doctors,, teachers, nurses, artists, bankers, and business owners. They would take off from work to help out in their kids schools, volunteering in the classroom, going on field trips, etc. They'd come home after work and walk the dog, help with homework and cook supper. They would gather on neighborhood decks and have beers. They would hold the big corner table at the neighborhood bar for the rest of us if we were running late. They would buy a round for the table when it was their turn. They'd kiss their kids goodnight. They'd kiss their partner goodnight and drift off to sleep, only to awaken in the morning and do it all over again.

      That's the gay agenda. Isn't it a terrible hideous thing?

      May 3, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  8. BriSoFla

    Well I live in a Stand Your Ground state. So what I would advise gay and lesbian people (young and old) that are subject of abuse is to abuse back. Use anything as a weapon strike back!!! Enough is enough. These people like this moron preacher and his flock are barbarians and the only way to fight morons like them is their way. FIGHT BACK!!!! Carry a bat and start swinging. NO MORE MISTER NICE GUY! Now call me a sissy you freak!

    May 3, 2012 at 9:12 am |
  9. Daryl

    You can punch away gayness about as easily as you can punch away ignorance and stupidity... Though I wouldn't mind trying on this DB pastor. Sad thing is sheeple will believe this zealot "cause he speaks for God". If I were God I'd be looking for better representation... just a thought.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:12 am |
  10. kayaker247

    This is what I've come to expect from the Christians, Catholics and Evangelicals. Hate, violence and misplaced fear mongering against anything they disagree with or don’t understand. The religion has largely deteriorated into a spiteful movement of mentally disturbed people that look to a 2,000 year old book written by men to make sense of their own frustrating lives. It’s pathetic really.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:12 am |
  11. freedomdem

    boo hoo, he said something mean i don't like boo hoo...........................yet they violently protest soldiers and cops and spit and scream in their face................so my message to the ho mo's is to man up and put your big boy pants on.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Hogarth

      Hold up there, Willis. Where and when have you ever seen gay people "violently protest soldiers and cops"? Hate much?

      May 3, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • mandarax

      Your strawman accusations won't work here. Keep your bullying in church where it belongs.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • Wes Scott

      It sounds more like you would prefer him with his pants off.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • Hmm

      I am a gay police officer. More man than you could probably handle in a fight. Don't assume all those soldiers and police officers you are speaking about are straight men.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • sam stone

      gosh, freedom, you really are a moron. where are the gays protesting soldiers and spitting on cops?

      May 3, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  12. really?

    It's pretty clear that he's in the closet.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • Richard

      That old saw about "you said it, therefore you must be it" doesn't really stand the test of scrutiny.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:09 am |
  13. Richard

    As a blacksmith, I know the only way to straighten something out is to beat it.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • Adam

      As a Blacksmith, you're an idiot.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  14. Tim

    This man needs to be made to step down!!! What kind of so called christian makes a remark like that! He said in his statement that it wasn't scripted so in other words this is how he feels!! Make this demon step down. I think this so called "I am sorry crap" is only because he is afraid of getting punched himself.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:06 am |
  15. freedomdem

    gay protest and say the same thing about cops.................whiners........GET OVER IT.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • Hogarth

      You don't seem to know much about society or the people you share it with.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • sam stone

      do you even TRY to make sense?

      May 3, 2012 at 9:54 am |
  16. Those used guys.

    Would the good Pastor have smacked Jesus up the side of the head because he hung around with a dozen guys and the bible does not report that he had any luck with the girls or maybe he just wasn't intrested? LOL

    May 3, 2012 at 9:05 am |
  17. paul

    Brought to you by the same religion that calls muslims crazy and violent.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • Bensa

      I am sad you were named "Paul"

      May 3, 2012 at 9:18 am |
  18. Waiting for a candidate

    What an A$$hat

    May 3, 2012 at 9:03 am |
  19. KLONG

    Somehow I don't think Jesus would be advocating punching children. Why can't Christians just preach His message? This man is a culturally handicapped pervert.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  20. boocat

    Another "christian".....more like another gay person who should come out of the closet.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:02 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.