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. JRC

    “I apologize to anyone I have unintentionally offended.” I'm tired of these non-apologies. Apologize for saying something moronic and hurtful– own the statement, learn from it, and mean it. This non-apology allows him to retain the meaning behind his statement and obviates any need to reevaluate what was wrong with it to begin with. Not impressed.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  2. Graced

    As a Christian I'd like to ask people reading this article to understand that this piece of pig vomit doesn't speak for all Christians. He's part of a SECTION of Christianity that perverts the Bible into his own twisted little view of life. There are many of us who don't believe that being gay is being anti-God. May all your children be gay, Pastor, and may you live to be 100 without the comfort of family.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  3. Joel Peters

    Preacher man Harris is a dufus but an example of the kind of people that will crawl out of the evangelical muck to do the violent things they hide in some of their sick minds. This is why we need to keep a Secular government.
    People should be free to worship what ever religion they want but history shows when religion or dictatorships (which is a type of religion) gain control perverts arise to run inquisitions, torture and kill in the name of the Pope, Fuhrer, God, ethnic cleansing, Supreme leader, gay bashing or whatever. Don't do violence to these deluded "Christians" or the "Secular Nation" becomes like them . Protect yourself with education, strength, involvement, watchfulness and keep separation of church and state

    May 3, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  4. Horus

    This guy meant exactly what he said. It is exactly how a lot of religious folks think – narrow-minded, do as I say or I will beat you into submission, and slightly veiled subjugation of women. He only read a retraction because of the bad press. People like this guy live lives of fear and label anything they don't understand, or don't agree with as against some God because they are weak and pathetic.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  5. EuphoriCrest

    You can't beat the gay out of a child any more than you can beat the stupid out of a pastor.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Graced

      @euphoricrest – Ha! I love it!

      May 3, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • JD

      LOL That is soooo true.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Al

      Well played.


      May 3, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • FreddyMertz


      May 3, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  6. Steve Barr

    to: mb2010a
    Loved your comment....if its o.k. to hit the children....is it o.k. to hit pastors

    May 3, 2012 at 9:51 am |
  7. Survivor

    The perfect way to destroy a young person's faith and confuse them is to listen to this guy. His message has the wrong delivery and will cause more damage to the kingdom than build it up. Not to mention all the lives that his Careless/Reckless abuse of power will and already have affected.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Coastal0ne

      Perfectly stated and absolutely true.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:02 am |
  8. michael

    typical redneck religious freak

    May 3, 2012 at 9:50 am |
  9. admiralbrown

    I would rather spend time with a moral atheist than a hypocritical Christian. So much for Jesus teaching to love your enemy and to turn the other cheek. I'm not sure how instructing a parent to hit a gay child wouldn't be taken as offensive.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • JT

      I'd rather spend time with a golden rule follower than an asshole. BTW, this Jesus fellow did not invent the golden rule as Christians would like everyone to believe.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  10. Huebert

    I give it six month before he is caught in a truck stop bathroom smoking meth with a male prosti.tute.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  11. MELI

    maybe he needs to be told that what he is preaching is considered CHILD ABUSE

    May 3, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  12. libfreak48

    Great joke, great. Beat the boys if they're gay or even a little too effeminate for you. Ha ha. Very funny.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  13. mabel

    God (if there is one) made the person exactly how they are gay or straight. Actually, religous people use "GOD" as an excuse to be hateful to anyone who isn't like them. Therefore, we have wars in the name of religion. STUPID. I am all for religion that lets humans live happy lives, without harm to others PERIOD.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  14. killallthewhiteman

    Where in the bible does jesus say anything about gay people?

    May 3, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Coastal0ne

      Exactly, he doesn't. He says to love everyone.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • rjd

      Several places.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • rjd

      Sorry, to clarify, to Bible mentions it several times. I don't know that Jesus does. You would have to ask someone that believes all that stuff.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • ReasonableChristianity

      But Paul did. Romans 1:26.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Hugh Jass

      His general advice about stuff like that was (a) Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, and (b) Go, and sin no more.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Primewonk

      @ Reasonable Christianity – Is Paul your Christ? Paul was a hômophobic mysogynistic bigot who said women should sit down and shut up. Do you agree with him?

      May 3, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  15. atl404

    Now after you make a comment to abuse your child ,if they are gay, you retract it. You got the word out and you're apology
    is hollow. You say you are a Christian,but a true Christian would not strike another due to who they are. We are to love one
    another and I suggest you consider all the people that your words have harmed. You are suppose to be a leader and you failed,due to your bigotry. It made national news and now others will feel it's OK to commit a hate crime,due to your words.
    I suggest you think hard about your next sermon-what is is to walk in others shoes and be persecuted for being different.
    We all want to be loved,to be kind to one another and respect each other's differences. You have tarnished your congregation with hate. Jesus would have accepted all.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  16. RD

    Are you kidding me? I think a lot better of gay people than of pastors, or for any other religious nuts anyway.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:47 am |
  17. Just An Observer

    What I dont understand is why when people think of the word GAY, they limit it to just two men????? Then they take it a step further by describing a feminine male. There are masculine and feminine MEN and WOMEN who are both GAY and STRAIGHT. Thats just how it is.

    As a Christian, I cannot take the Bible that I read and make its rules and regulations into LAW. The bible's regulations are only for people who believe in it. If God gives people choices to make ther own decisions, who am I as a Christian to force someone to adhere to a book that they MAY or MAY NOT agree with. Thats why its importatnt for Pastors to stay in their lane, preach the Word, and ultimately show people a more excellent way to live according to the Bible, however IF you choose NOT to believe the Bible, I can only respect that, and move on.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • 13directors

      Good answer.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • ReasonableChristianity

      Huh? This pastor was preaching to Christians in his church. The only reason this has come to CNN is because someone decided his poor hyperbole was offensive to them.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Hugh Jass

      What if your kid just smirks and wears t-shirts with band names on them? Can I slap that grin off his face and still be right with Jesus?

      May 3, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • ReasonableChristianity

      Look up the word hyperbole, big butt. 🙂

      May 3, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Primewonk

      @ReasonableChristianity – this should be offensive to any sane human who has at least 10 functioning neurons.

      May 3, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  18. Tara H

    Wow, what does the Bible say about lying your @ss off in a pathetic attempt to make yourself sound less like the bigoted fool you actually are?

    May 3, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • peridot2

      Pretty sure it says 'Don't do it.' What a jerk this pastor is for saying this and then denying his meaning. I'd think better of it if he admitted he said it and apologised for being wrong.

      What an a.s.s.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  19. JT

    I think most of us would be shocked at what is said in churches all over this country on Sunday mornings that are not videoed and uploaded to youtube. This is probably about as mild as the hate speech gets. Pastors all over tell their sheep how to vote if they are a True Christian® all the while taking in tax exempt dollars.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • ReasonableChristianity

      Yeah, completely shocked. Who would ever think of all the crazy, horrible stuff preached from the pulpit on Sunday mornings about loving your neighbor like yourself or loving your enemies. I can't believe they encourage people to do social work. Nutjobs!

      May 3, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Hugh Jass

      "Who would ever think of all the crazy, horrible stuff preached from the pulpit" One of our local morons tried to ask all the Democrats to leave his church. He was gone by Tuesday.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • ReasonableChristianity

      Was it a Unitarian Universalist church?

      May 3, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • JT

      "ReasonableChristianity"...lol...do you have any idea what an oxymoron that is? Especially after reading some of your other drivel.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  20. Jokesterer

    God hates signs!

    May 3, 2012 at 9:43 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.