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. JT

    He meant it. He still means it. He should remember that kids grow up and have long memories. Neither he nor anyone who agrees with him have any right to the privilege of having children. These people are a menace.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:35 am |
  2. Vickie

    I feel bad for God! Some so called Christians really give him a bad name. I think this guy forgot who Jesus hung out with when he walked the earth...remember Mary Magdalene, just to name one. Oh well, and idiot is an idiot no matter what he calls himself. Just remember, even the Bible tells you that you can identify a true chrisitan by the fruit the bear. If they bear rotten fruit guess what...they may not be what...they probably aren't what they claim.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • JT

      Feel bad for god? Why? He could hit the smite button at any time....if he weren't just a fairy tale that is. BTW, it's True Christian®, please get it right.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  3. Greg

    So he's apologizing for anyone he offended. What about the people who follow him and believe in what he's saying. Should they go home an beat their kids? Religious Conservatives are such bigoted hateful people. They need to actually learn their religion and follow it.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • rob

      Most of the religfious conservatives are in the CLOSET!

      May 3, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  4. sherwin

    Just by reading the headlines alone you can almost predict that it would be a redneck baptist. More to come from these geniuses. Punching your own children sounds either like an intelligent design or instant creation. Make sure you follow his sermons literally flockers. This man and numerous other baptists and evangels speak like this ALL THE TIME for years.
    The video is what is the difference.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  5. ShawnDH

    Christianity has become evil, pure and simple.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Kimberly Knight

      No, Christianity is not evil, it is heretics like this who falsely claim the name Christian who allow evil to flourish. There are many loving, justice seeking manifestations of Christian community. http://www.ucc.org – a whole denomination that has been ordaining and marrying gay folks like myself for a long time.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  6. Wes Scott

    Preachers do not preach to deliver the word of god. Preachers preach because it is an easier way of getting money that actualy doing productive work, something for which most of them are inherently unqualified. I look to many fine examples – Robert Shuler, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard, Jerry Falwell, "Oral" Roberts, Pat Robertson, James Robison, Robert Tilton (and any of his wives), et al.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • Carol

      What ever happened to Oral's brother Anal?

      May 3, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  7. Vince

    I don't see why everyone is so upset with what he said...I wouldn't expect anything less from a southern Christian

    May 3, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Huebert

      Not all southerners are hate filled bigots like this pathetic excuse for a pastor. Some of us are trying to drag the South, kicking and screaming, into the modern era.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:35 am |
  8. JT

    Tell me again why this hate organization is tax exempt?

    May 3, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Tax exempt status, "In God We Trust", states repealing the 2nd amendment, drug prohibition, bans on same s ex marriage and various others are all UNconst itutional.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • Huebert


      What state has repealed the 2nd amendment?

      May 3, 2012 at 9:42 am |
  9. JT

    "I'm sorry you were offended" – Interrpretation: If you were a True Christian® like me then you wouldn't be offended and destined for the eternal flames of hell...you pansy!

    May 3, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  10. Hank Zmith

    Hit the Gays?
    We should Shoot 'em.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • TT

      People like you make me sick

      May 3, 2012 at 9:35 am |
  11. n8263

    Sean Harris makes Christianity look almost as loving as Islam.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:23 am |
  12. budoguy

    Come here Pastor and man up and punch me. I'm gay as the come. I've also bee, for 16 years, training diligently in martial arts. Come take a swing at me.

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

      Way to go!!

      May 3, 2012 at 9:23 am |
  13. nonyabidnes2

    This pastor and perhaps it's flock, are under the law. Where does it say to hit your child? That is so old testament. God says to love one another. The article says " he didn't use scripted words", so that alone suggest how he really feels...Yet, we are not to hudge, that is reserved for God...

    May 3, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  14. Drinky Crow

    Gotta love the christians, eh? Always showing the love. They aren't perfect, they just expect you to be. Dean hit the nail on the head; Christianity, like all religion, is a disease.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • Gods'girl4eva

      This is one disease I caught and I do not want to be cured. Amen.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  15. liz

    He's not the least bit sorry for what he said. He's merely apologizing for getting caught

    May 3, 2012 at 9:20 am |
  16. LMC

    It's so easy to make a comment and then claim it was a joke! Even as a joke, this comment was reprehensible. Apparently the pastor hasn't heard about the suicide rate of gay teens or perhaps he would say they are better off dead. A person can no more help being gay than they can be short or tall.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:20 am |
  17. glu

    I hope you don't see that day

    May 3, 2012 at 9:20 am |
  18. Leigh

    The good Pastor needs to ask himself What Would Jesus Do?

    Hint: He would NOT punch gay kids. He would probably kick the good Pastor's a$$, though.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:19 am |
  19. BurnNotice

    "Carolina, thy name is stupidity."

    May 3, 2012 at 9:18 am |
  20. Dean

    I hope I live to see the day when Christianity is eradicated, like smallpox.

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

      Sorry Dean, never will happen, but sin will be eradicated though, don't get eradicated with it man, turn to Jesus Christ and trust Him for the forgiveness of your sins and be reconciled to God.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:37 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.