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. indfl

    Yeah. That'll work. It's fun to watch so many stupid people in one room agreeing with each other. Spread the evil, brother, spread the evil like warm, fatty, tasty butter.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  2. EnjaySea

    This is the direct product of taking all of your instructions about life and morality from a book written by the ancient, the uneducated, and the ignorant.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • ReasonableChristianity

      So, you think that the teaching to "love your neighbor" and "love your enemy" is ancient, uneducated, and ignorant? Hmm... What's your moral theory?

      May 3, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • EnjaySea

      Oh, you think this pastor was loving his neighbor? Hmm, what's your idea of compassion?

      A few passages about love doesn't excuse the main theme that you believe in a god who is more interested in punishment, torture, and eternal damnation, than he is in love.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • sam stone

      reasonable: some of the bible still applies, some not so much

      May 3, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • JT

      I fear anyone who does good only because some bronze age text tells them to do so all the while ignoring passages such as the following from same "good" book.

      Psalm 137:9 – Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Natasha

      Thank you, I couldn't have said it better myself. This is the kind of disgusting, close minded hatred we need to we need to stop subjecting the world AND OUR CHILDREN to. It's amazing to me that this man IS A PASTOR. A pastor is someone who is supposed to be caring and compassionate. Yet, he is telling his congregation to force HIS (THEIR) OWN WARPED IDEALS (THAT ARE BASED UPON A BOOK WRITTEN HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO,) upon their own children. In turn, this is basically implying to their OWN FLESH AND BLOOD, that they don't care about how their child feels inside. By doing the things this pastor is preaching, you are telling YOUR CHILD that you don't care about the constant emotional struggle he/she has to deal with everyday trying to figure out who he/she really is. You're telling that child,
      "I don't care that you, MY OWN FLESH AND BLOOD, is hurting and in constant turmoil. I don't care that right now in your life you need me, YOUR PARENT, more than anything else in this world. I don’t care that I am supposed to be there for you, that I am supposed to tell you, ‘You ARE allowed to be whoever you want to be, gay or not.’ I don't give a s**t about you. You are going to be who I tell you to be no matter what because I WILL NOT ALLOW IT, BECAUSE I DON'T LIKE IT. So you have to be who I want you to be, like it or not."
      So, those of you parents and non-parents out there that support this pastor and his ideals, you all go right ahead and FORCE your SELFISH, UNCOMPASSIONATE ideals upon your children and just watch...... Watch as your children grow up to dislike you, disrespect you, not look up to you, and push you as far away as possible. Watch as some of those same children grow up to become selfish, or abusive, or violent, become pathological liars and sociopaths, develop depression and a low self esteem, develop addictions trying to self medicate, and in some of the most devastating cases, commit crimes, murder, or suicide. Those of you out there that support this man are filling the world with hate and it absolutely disgusts me.

      May 3, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  3. Jon KIng

    Anyone in that audience should never reproduce anyway.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Andres

      hahahaha AMEN!!

      May 3, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Primewonk

      From the way the congregation agreed with him, they should all be investigated for child abuse.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  4. manyote

    The only thing this psycho didn't do was some good ole' snake charming.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  5. Horus

    You know what's equally pathetic are the "amens" coming from the congregation. Religion poisons the mind.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • me

      couldn't agree more

      May 3, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • ReasonableChristianity

      Perhaps people should start putting up videos of atheist ad lib "sermons". I bet there are some juicy tidbits in those that probably can't even be put on a news website. This is just more picking on Christians.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Horus

      Picking on christians because I make an observation? Ok, post atheist video and I'll "pick" at it as well. I'm neither. If forced to classify myself with some label it would be Apatheist – as in I deem religion not relevant

      May 3, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • sam stone

      reasonable: well, when those poor misunderstood christians stop trying to deny others' civil rights, you may have a point.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Primewonk

      @ ReasonableChristian – can tell us where we go to hear these "atheist" sermons? I looked in my Yellow Pages and can't find any "atheist" churches. Do you have a nation-wide directory you can point me to?

      By the way, this isn't picking on christians. It's picking on mindless, sniveling, ignorant, fundiot, cretins.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  6. gull akbar khan

    Muslims believe in the existence of angels. In Islam there are six pillars of faith; belief in God, the One and Only, the Creator and Sustainer of all that exists, belief in His angels, His books, His messengers, the Last Day and divine predestination.Angels are part of the unseen world, but Muslims believe in their existence with certainty because God and His messenger, Muhammad, have provided us with information about them. The angels were created by God in order to worship and obey Him They, (angels) disobey not, the Commands they receive from God, but do that which they are commanded.” (Quran 66:6)

    God created angels from light. Prophet Muhammad, may God praise him, said, “The angels are created from light,”[1] We have no knowledge of when the angels were created, however, we do know that it was before the creation of humankind. Quran explains that God told the angels of His intention to create a vicegerent on earth. (2:30)

    Muslims know that angels are beautiful creations. In Quran 53:6 God describes the angels as dhoo mirrah, this is an Arabic term that renowned Islamic scholars[2] define as, tall and beautiful in appearance. Quran (12:31) also describes Prophet Joseph as beautiful, like a noble angel.

    Angels have wings, and can be very large. There is nothing in either the Quran, or the traditions of Prophet Muhammad that indicate that angels are winged babies or have any form of gender.[3] We do know however, that angels are winged and some are extremely large. From the traditions of Prophet Muhammad we know that the angel Gabriel’s great size filled “the space between heaven and earth”[4] and that he had six hundred wings[5].

    “...Who made the angels, messengers with wings – two, or three, or four (pairs)...” (Quran 35:1)

    There are also differences in the status of angels. Those angels who were present at the first battle, the Battle of Badr, are known to be the “best” of the angels.

    “Angel Gabriel came to the Prophet and asked, ‘How do you rate the people among you who were present at Badr?’ Muhammad, may God praise him, answered, ‘They are the best of the Muslims,’ or something similar. Gabriel then said: ‘So it is with the angels who were present at Badr.’”[6]

    Muslims believe that angels have no need to eat or drink. Their sustenance is glorifying God and repeating the words, there is no god but God. (Quran 21:20).

    “. . . For in the presence of your Lord are those who celebrate His praises by night and by day. And they never flag (nor feel themselves above it).” (Quran 41:38)

    The story of Prophet Abraham in Quran also indicates that the angels have no need of food. When angels, in the form of men, visited Prophet Abraham to give him the good tidings of the birth of a son, he offered to them a calf in their honour. They refused to eat and he became fearful, it was then that they revealed themselves as angels. (Quran 51:26-28)

    There are many angels, but only God knows the exact number. During his ascension to heaven, the Prophet Muhammad visited a House of Worship known as ‘the much-frequented house’, or, in Arabic al Bayt al-Mamoor, the heavenly equivalent of the Kaaba.[7]

    Then I was taken up to ‘the Much-Frequented House’: every day seventy thousand angels visit it and leave, never returning to it again, another (group) coming after them.”[8]

    Prophet Muhammad has also informed us that on the Day of Judgement, hell will be brought forth and shown to the people. He said, “Hell will be brought forth that day by means of seventy thousand ropes, each of which will be pulled by seventy thousand angels.”[9]

    The angels have great powers. They have the ability to take on different forms. They appeared before both Prophet Abraham and Prophet Lot as men. The angel Gabriel appeared before Mary the mother of Jesus as a man, (Quran 19:17) and he appeared before Prophet Muhammad as a man, whose clothes were exceedingly white, and whose hair was exceedingly black.[10]

    The angels are strong. Four angels carry the throne of God, and on the Day of Judgement their number will be increased to eight. Among the traditions of Prophet Muhammad is a narration that describes one of the angels carrying God’s throne. “The distance between his ear-lobes and his shoulders is equivalent to a seven-hundred-year journey.”[11]

    Angels carry out various duties and responsibilities. Some are responsible for matters of the universe. Some are responsible for the seas, or the mountains or the wind. Once, after visiting the city of Ta’if, a town near Mecca, Prophet Muhammad was pelted with stones. The angel Gabriel and the angel of the mountains paid him a visit.

    The angel of the mountains offered to destroy the intractable people by burying them under the rubble of two nearby mountains. Prophet Muhammad declined the offer for he believed that if they had a chance to settle down and look at Islam, they would accept it band love God.[12]

    Angels carry out God’s commands without flinching or hesitating. Each angel has a duty or function. Some angels guard and accompany human beings, others are messengers. In part two we will examine these duties and learn the names of some of the angels who perform them.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      In the real real world we believe in rationalism.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Horus

      And the evidence for all this is where again? Oh, right a collection of writings over hundreds if not thousands of years by people who have simply made claims to have observed or believed something, and absent contemporary substantiation.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  7. n8263

    Sean Harris has no idea what he is talking about and is not a true Christian. A true Christian knows it is never acceptable to punch your child or break their wrists. True Christans know you are supposed to stone your disobedient children to death as it says in Deuteronomy 21:18-21.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Natasha

      LMFAO! YES! Thank you for this. It brought a smile to my face as I read some of these sickening responses defending this man. There are some good morals in the bible, but that's all they are, morals WRITTEN BY MERE MEN.

      May 3, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  8. Paul

    Organized religion is a great thing, until people become part of the equiation. HA!

    May 3, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  9. Rocky

    I'm training my gay kids to punch evangelical Taliban hypocrites like Harris in the face anytime they feel like it. Especially my angry lesbian girls. May a kick or two to the nuts would shut him up. i am sick to death of evangelical terrorism. Hating in the name of Jesus.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • RG

      This made me laugh! Thank you for that....I needed it after reading this article. Just like all Muslims are not like the Taliban, etc, there are Christians that believe that God is love. The ultimate commandment he gave was to love God and love others. He didn't give any exceptions to that either. There is no get out of loving someone if they are gay, a murderer, etc. Sorry we humans have jacked it up.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  10. An


    May 3, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  11. Nick

    The problem with preachers like this is they forgot there are several other sins they could harp about if they are going to harp on sin. I wonder how many obese people were sitting in those pews hating on the gays. Or how many drunkards were wishing the crowd would be quiet because the hangover was killing them.... Jesus never taught to hate, he taught to love.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • ReasonableChristianity

      There are plenty of sermons on every type of sin, it's just that the media loves a controversial subject with a sprinkle of hyperbole.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • sam stone

      reasonable: and were is the push to deny those other "sinners" their ciivl rights?

      May 3, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Primewonk

      @ ReasonableChristian – being born gay is no more a sin than being born black or being born left-handed.

      Oh...Wait...It wasn't that long ago that "good christians" claimed being left handed was a sign of the devil, and that being born black was the "mark of Cain".

      This is simply yet another thing (in a long list of things) that your god got completely wrong. Either that, or the ignorant nomadic bronze-age shepherds had absolutely no idea about the science of sèxual orientation.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  12. Charles Morris

    Oh, many years ago as a child starting school if you picked up your pencil with your left hand to print or write you would receive a smart slap on the wrist with a ruler by your teacher! No using the devil's hand for writing! I suppose the good reverend also subscribes to that thinking. How neanderthal!

    May 3, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      When did you go to school, the 1300s?

      May 3, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Primewonk

      @ Rational – I went to school in the 60's and 70's. And I remember kids in grade school getting wacked for using their left hands. This was in a LCMS school.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  13. JediTrawl

    That's what am talkin' 'bout!!! Punch the gay away!!!

    May 3, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  14. lolita

    love your enemy and pray for him....what a guy!!

    May 3, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  15. Dog

    This guy is the devil

    May 3, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  16. ya no

    How is it the real morons and criminals in our society seem to rise to positions of influence and power? Term limits on any elected or appointed position in business, politics and religion. Power corrupts – any power at all.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • JediTrawl

      Yeah, punch the gay away!!

      May 3, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  17. AntiNothing

    What he is describing is a learned behaivior, that is what his parents did to him. Closeted

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

      I've got this game figured out. You're really a closet Christian.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  18. Bob

    “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.”

    "not scripted" – Oh, you mean you said what you really think then...

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


      May 3, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • james

      The fact that he apologized for not choosing his words more carefully then for being a hateful, bigoted moron, speaks volumes. The real problem is the sheep who take stupid peoples advice without thinking about the consequences.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  19. Frank Maston

    Berean Baptist Church has taken down its "contact us" page. No surprise there. This military vet with three straight sons says that this 'pastor' deserves some understanding...he's a product of his religious culture and education, both of which have been isolated from the reality of the New Testament and science. To him, Jesus said, "Anybody different from you should be corrected with 40 whacks". Oh, well. Lots of churches exist for the purpose of confirming the beliefs of those who attend, whether or not those beliefs are true to the faith they claim; Berean Baptist seems to value "structure" over everything else, just like most extremist religious organizations within all faiths. Hopefully, this controversy will be a learning moment for them.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  20. n8263

    This is why we need separation of church and state.

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

      No, this is why we need separation of church and humanity!!

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

      Separation, not obliteration.

      People have the right to practice their religion, no matter how ridiculous it may seem.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:11 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.