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. cronewinter

    This is the reason we must never let religion become the law of the land. It just isn't safe for anyone who is not
    a part of the cult. Christians with their love of god have a huge hate for everyone who does not march to their particular drum and most feel a god given right to hit women and children.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  2. GeorgeBos95

    “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."

    The LGBT community? How about the rest of us, who follow the rule that hitting ANYONE is unacceptable.

    I just love these "Christians" who make up the rules as they go along to suit their own agendas. Idiots.

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

      Couldn't have said it better.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  3. idjit

    How Christian of him. His "apology" seems more of the "I'm sorry I got caught" kind rather then "I'm truly sorry for what I said" kind.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  4. Bob

    I'm pretty sure the OT says to stone the child.

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

      That is true, but no one follows the Old Testament because it was written back when God was still fighting his heroin addiction.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  5. BobZemko

    Jesus, save me from your followers.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  6. MNTaxpayer

    An insincere appology if I ever heard one. Say what you believe and then stand behind it. I'll never understand how people are willing to be led by these self appointed 'men of god'.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:05 am |
  7. Gerry Daley

    He did't "intentionally mean to offend anyone who was gay"???????????????????????? What utter BS. What he didn't intend was to get caught preaching hatred. But then, he joins a long line of utter hypocrites whose words have come back to bite them in their overstuffed butts.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  8. atheist

    Lots of True Scotsman fallacies in these posts.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  9. whatyouwant

    Who taped the sermon? Could it be...Satan?

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

      Um...the church taped it. You can go online to the churches website – at least you could. Seems they have been scrubbing their website today.

      May 3, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  10. Steve Barr

    Just another idiot spouting hate in the name of God. Maybe God should hit him with a bolt of lightening.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Hugh Jass

      I'm sure that if God was real, He'd be glad to strike this fellow down. But He's not.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Marti J

      Exactly Steve!!!

      May 3, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  11. Juliatrick

    What a complete idiot. I am a devout Christian, and his words have nothing to do with my God. It's crap like this that give religion a bad name.

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

      "t's crap like this that give religion a bad name." That, and burning old women as witches and lynching black folks and bombing churches and flying hijacked planes into buildings and forcing people into extermination camps. And crusades and WMDs and santorum.

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

      Well said. Even an an atheist I agree that the issue is not with religion but the self serving who spin it to their our use. (and profit?)

      May 3, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Bob

      Religion gives religion a bad name.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  12. El Troyo

    Who would Jesus beat.
    Fanatics should be beaten and punched to discourage their un-Jesus-like behavior.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  13. moses

    This pastor is soooooo gay.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Gay People

      That's an insult to gay people.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:02 am |
  14. Claudine Chinetti

    Let me bump this one, up by my other post.

    While you are for everyone's freedom and equality and no stereotyping, do the same for real Christians. Just because one labels him/herself, "Christian", doesn't mean he/she is one. Anyone could go and put a sign out in front of their work place saying Doctor, but they may not be one. Even Christ said it will be said, "Depart from me..., I never knew you." We are to be in the "image of God", of course, we will fail, we are human not God. We are to be like him, but we are humans. Every time, I read posts like some of those below, I see that you have only seen labels on people. You must judge them by their fruits. You must "try" the spirits and see if they be from God. I read the posts about Christians and Christianity and then try to match them to what I know as Christ-like, a Christian and they don't match. I don't throw them all in one category "Christian",and then say eradicate them all. You want to eradicate something that isn't even Christ-like and then claim that is Christianity. It isn't . Even you can tell that it is false. If one searched they could find actual Christians, but they are on a very narrow road that not all are traveling, so you may not chance upon them everyday. What you are seeing is not Christ-like, don't throw out Christ, go in search of Him, with all your heart and you will find Him. You don't follow people, you follow Christ.

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


      By what method can a "true believer" tell if anybody else is a "true believer?". If you're in a room with a dozen people, and you know that some of them are christians and some aren't but are only lying that they are–how can you tell who among their number is a "true christian?"


      May 3, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • atheist

      True Scotsman Fallacy

      May 3, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Louisiana Man

      This reeks of stratospheric hypocrisy.. from not only the 'good, perfect, christian (PUKE).. pastor'..

      but from the GOP drones would whip their 'gay kids' one moment ..then prostrate to the heavens..the next..

      May 3, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Primewonk

      If you call yourself a doctor and try and practice medicine without a license, you will end up in prison.

      But anyone can call themselves a preacher. I got my minister's card from the Universal Life Church for $5 from an add in the back of Rolling Stone back in 1976.

      May 3, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  15. jkINC

    One this is certain, if there truly is "The word of God" he does not know it.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  16. Anon E Moose

    The good pastor is on to something, it's just not the correct method which is in question.

    From my own personal experience & observation, there's nothing better than a good old
    electric shock to turn people towards religion.

    Turn on the current and you will hear the spontaneous cries of "Jeezus" and "God" from anybody's lips.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Hugh Jass

      Drop a cement block on their foot. "Oh God, Why did this happen to me? Ow, Jesus Christ Almighty on a stick, son of a biscuit, ow, god DANG that smarts, JEsus Christ." Denominations get started that way.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Are you serious?

      You are a very, very sick person. I truly hope that you are not raising any children

      May 3, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I hope Are you serious is not serious. If not, you must go around with a massive, humorless stick up your a ss.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • sam stone

      I suppose if you pass by a motel, you will think that there is a revival meeting going on, with all the people moaning "oh, jesus, oooohhhhh goddddddd"

      May 3, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  17. Hugh Jass

    Remember, if your kids seem wimpy, dress up in tight black leather and whip them until they -oh wait, that's what to do if they don't seem wimpy enough. From the handbook HOW TO REAR YOUR CHILDREN.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  18. Claudine Chinetti

    I'm a Christian and follow Christ. In a little church, out in the middle of no where, we strove to actually be Christ-like with His help and be vessels that would let His love pour into us and through us and out of us, onto others, that they might feel and know the love of God for them. The Pastor's wife was the one the gay young man called when all turned dark, and she said, "Come on, you have a home here." He came. He arrived in this little out of the way place, with long painted nails and hair like a woman's and looking full blown "gay". 🙂 I love him. He was so much fun. He began to pray and seek God, and we all took him into the church and our homes and lives, with love and joy. We'd sit and talk and laugh. I remember the day he and I sang in church, the old song, "I Saw the Lord". God's presence was there and touched many. We laughed so many times while we were practicing for that special song, that I could barely play the piano. He went everywhere with the Pastor's wife and I. Now, does that sound like it needs to be "eradicated", because I don't think so.....he even lived in our parsonage with our Pastors. 🙂 Check your own hearts.........maybe you don't even know there is a Christ, and maybe you kick Him and say you want nothing of Him, like Saul, who was murdering Christians, did before he became Paul. He, Christ is waiting with arms outstretched for who so ever will,to run into His arms, you can bypass abusive men, who hold the Office labeled "Preacher", God will deal with those who say they are Shepherds of the flock that is His, and then starves them and abuses them and places them in bondage. Selah...........think about it. "For God so loved the world, He gave His only Son....." It is for real, you can find it and hold it in your hands, but not everything that says it's gold is the real thing, as you have noticed, and know.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Hugh Jass

      So you are saying you have a gay friend, but you wouldn't let him marry your brother, right?

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

      Nice story. Its pastors like this that give the impression that all Christians hate gays. This is not the case. True Christians should show love and acceptance to all. When I first read this story and watched video I was so very dissapointed. No Christian parent should hit their child for being gay. You can not beat that out of them. Thats irrational thinking and behavior. You give councel in a loving way. Teach.them of Gods will and purpose. Love them unconditionally. This preacher teaches hate and violence and shpuld be rejected by his congregation. He however will pay his dues to God for not shepherding his flock.in loving kindness.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  19. musician

    This man has almost nothing to do with Jesus. He understands nothing about Christianity or love. He is an idiot.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Hugh Jass

      Jesus pays his bills so he doesn't have to work.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  20. Atheist

    Pastors are nothing more than freeloaders who don't want a real job. If you took away this man's congregation, he would be working the counter at his local Fred's Discount Store.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • JT

      They are basically salesmen blowing sunshine up gullible sheep's asses for a fee.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:24 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.