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. Voice of Reason

    Wouldn't this be considered assembling for the purpose of harm?

    May 2, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Ernesto

      You mean the assembly at the church hearing the pastor's sermon? It should be against the law to incite people to violence, pastor or not pastor. The judicial system should respect the separation between church and state.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      And yet, voice of reason probably applauds the assembly of anarchists on main street breaking in store-fronts on May Day.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Voice of Reason


      Absolutely not. What kind of comparison is that? You make no sense look brilliant.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Ernesto

      It's interesting that b4bigbang sees a similarity between the people in that church and the anarchists on the streets breaking windows and cars...

      May 2, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Post-Left Individualist Anarchist

      You do realize that the cliche form or anarchism you mentioned is at most a tiny subset of anarchism, and is arguably not anarchism at all but nihilism?

      You do realize that a number of the founding fathers, and people like Thoreau, were early mild forms of anarchist? That which governs least governs best?

      May 2, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      No earnesto, i see a similarity between gay/atheist comments designed to accuse Christian preaching as having illegal content and the use of the judicial system against Jews and Christians by the former Soviet Union.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Ernesto

      b4bigbang, it's not me who wrote the criminal laws, and it was not me who incited parents to hit their little children. So if this pastor spends some time in jail it would be perfectly fitting. Maybe he learns there from being treated by other inmates to appreciate what he preached against, for his moral and emotional growth.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  2. M

    It was a mistake...like when you get caught speeding. You knew what you were doing, you just didn't realize there was someone with a gun and a pad of court papers there waiting to call you on it. I generally find gay people annoying, but gays are nowhere near as annoying as Christians. I'd like to like Christians, but they're so full of stupid it's just easier to choke down gay banality than Christian self-righteousness. Gays and Christians are both annoying as h3ll, but if I had to choose an eternity of h3ll, gay people are less idiotic than those semitiphile bible camp jerks. I love guns, but at least gays don't wax idiotic over their notions of an afterlife.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  3. taste the rainbow

    Hey Preacher man. As Eddie Murphy said "Fa99ots are men and you may look awful funny getting your @s$ kicked by a fa99ot"

    May 2, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  4. Bob

    Shame on you Sean Harris. If these kids don't have enough problems to work through, now they have violent parents punishing them for being what they are. I hope you are thoroughly embarrassed. No, I will not strike my child for being gay. Sorry, it simply will not happen because it will not change a thing about him. It would, however, make me a lesser human being that Jesus Christ would be ashamed of. Even if meant in jest, violence is highly inappropriate to even suggest.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • jenkoosh

      Well said.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • sadie456

      I am with you 100%. Harris is supposed to be an example to his sheep. Airing his miserable prejudices shows just how little he has learned from his religion.

      May 2, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  5. Voice of Reason

    Take away their non-profit status if they are going preach child abuse and prejudice. Clearly this guy is busted.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Ernesto

      I second your "voice of reason" to revoke their tax exempt status.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  6. b4bigbang


    All the other
    taboos are now normal
    P e d o
    will be ok,
    the LBTQs will add it to their acronym
    Then animals will be next.
    The "science" will support it
    and the liberals will
    scream for their 'civil rights'.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Another retarded post from b4bigbang brought to you by the word "idiocy".

      May 2, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • taste the rainbow

      You just proved darwin is right, now go deselect yourself.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • J-NW

      Wow. You are certifiable. Science is based on 'emperical truth'. Aparently you see truth as an enemy to the cozy fantasy you're afraid to lose. So afraid that you'd probably do violence to anyone who threatens your dream world. The TRUE Jesus does not approve of you.. how does it feel? Defending the false word.. and going to hell because of it. Loser. You create a little more hell for the rest of us.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Ernesto

      b4bigbang is right. Taboos are not normal
      I mean, it is not normal to make differences between individuals into "taboos". It takes some disposition to be deceptive.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  7. W.W.

    He did NOT "retract" his "sermon remarks" at all, according to the article. But I guess this is supposed to be along the same lines as that comedian being coerced to apologize a few articles away.
    CNN = Crappy Nonsense Now

    May 2, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  8. Ernesto

    What pastor Berean spoke in his sermon is 100% pastor Berean. What he says now is consequence of the reaction of today's society to the immorality of his thinking. It is unprobable that the man changed what his essence is in a couple of days, and it is unprobable that he feels sorry for the consequences of his words, instead feeling sorry for himself.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Southern Guy

      I agree. Maybe HE needs to be smacked around a little bit...

      May 2, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  9. HHR

    Jesus talked about the religious hypocrites, telling them that they were "blind guides". Christians need to hold their leaders accountable to Jesus' standards.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Ernesto

      You are right. The reason is that today we don't hear Jesus talking. We hear what the churches preach, a big difference. We are not even sure what Jesus talked, all we have is what some people wrote about him many years after his death.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  10. b4bigbang


    May 2, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  11. Anney

    That guy was as serious as a heart attack. He was not joking, just trying to cover his extemely inappropriate remarks. Not very funny.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Ernesto

      He is surely a coward. How else would he ever think of hitting a little gay boy for being gay?

      May 2, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  12. Frank

    He did not intend to offend anyone?? Talk about being narrow minded this pastor should be removed from the pulpit as he is and will be doing more evil than good.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  13. Lisa

    This guy would have been right at home as a preacher 500 years ago, burning girls as witches if they got a little too independent, and beating left handed kids into using their right.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  14. W.W.

    What IS it with North Carolina? Can we round these people up already? How many times do we need to hear about psychotic and vicious people, all "Christians", who just happen to live in the same state?
    North Carolina must be one of the worst places to live. A totally filthy piece of hell on earth. Just disgusting.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Frank

      We have friends and a granddaughter living in NC. This idiot pastor is not represented of the GOOD people of NC but your general view of this one person is right on.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • W.W.

      Oh, I didn't mean that there might not be a few nice people here and there. It's just some of the worst, most disgusting news stories come straight out of North Carolina. Repeatedly.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  15. bilytex1

    I love all these supposed 'ministers of God' claiming that THEY have somehow been given the right, authority, and ability to interpret and thence deliver instructions to others on how to be 'Godly' people. Just like those that claim that God somehow 'spoke' to them or 'communicated' with them.

    For millenia pastors, prophets, popes, seers, sages, and others have been using the false cloak of faith to abuse, intimidate, control, and otherwise rule over others. Remember the Spanish Inquisition?????

    I have NO issue with anyone who wants to talk about how to lead a better, healthier, more fulfilled life through practicing a faith in a constructive manner. I DO have MAJOR issues with these preachers that think they have the right, duty, or moral obligation to instruct others in behaviors, actions, and practices that are totally and completely contradictory with the basic tenets of being faithful, responsible, and compassionate to ALL God's creations.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Ernesto

      It is reassuring to read that reasoning people like you have a clear view of reality. I am an optimist who believes that the role of organized religion will decline and consequently society will gain more freedom to improve.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  16. t3chsupport

    Proverbs 26:

    18 As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death,

    19 So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?

    "I was just joking!"

    May 2, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  17. momoya

    I wouldn't want this guy coaching basketball.. And the proper coordination for making a basket is... as soon as you shoot, you POP that wrist right back the other way!!

    May 2, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  18. m_s_r_s

    How do Christians decide what parts of the Bible to follow?

    May 2, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • momoya

      Desirability.. They think that if you want something more it's easier to believe in it and you should.. Apparently they don't know what to think of death–hey, maybe that's the whole problem?

      May 2, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      They just pick and choose and use the magic words "context" and "interpretation" to justify how they feel about those parts.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Christians

      Most of us have never read the Bible.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • fred

      We do not pick and chose what we follow and what we don't. The Word of God and the Holy Spirit that guides us is a gift from God and we follow that which glorifies God. The Bible is also very clear that Christians and the Chosen Ones stumble constantly over just about every part of what we are commanded to do. God knows this and has already made a way for any that want it.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Let me redo my statement. A fair number of christians do this. Even you use the the magic words of "context" and "interpretation" to think of the bible in a certain way.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • m_s_r_s

      @HawiiGuest, then what about Leviticus 25:44, do you own slaves? or how about Exodus 35:2, i.e. putting people to death who work on the Sabbath? or maybe selling your daughter into slavery? (Exodus 21:7)? How do Christians reconcile those scriptures from the Bible? There are quite a few more of these nuggets too.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • just sayin

      Fred said, "The Word of God and the Holy Spirit that guides us is a gift from God .."
      Clearly he was full of the Spirit

      May 2, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest


      I've debated many Christians on this point, and have never gotten a straight answer to that question.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • m_s_r_s

      My last comment was meant for 'fred', not 'HawiiGuest'. Sorry about that.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Be ready for a reply of either "context" or they don't need to follow those rules because of Jesus being sacrificed. Those are the two most common answers to that question.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • m_s_r_s

      @HG - lol. yes, I've heard those too.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Ernesto

      Some "fred" here implied that he is a "choosen one". Well... people are choosen for the most diverse reasons. Maybe he was choosen for being naive enough.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • fred

      Leviticus 25-44 in context relates to the fair and proper treatment of slaves. Slaves were common in that day and culture. God always deals with people and nations exactly where they are intellectually and culturally. Thanks be to God Israel was instructed on the necessity of good an proper treatment which was not common in that day. These slaves in this land were pagans and the treatment they received from Israel was a blessing to them. They were given more dignity that in their own land. This is a cornerstone marker of God in that God seeks to bless man, even those that are not of the “chosen”

      May 2, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • fred

      Exodus 35:2 the Sabbath was very important from many aspects. The Sabbath was a day of rest in the Lord as in Genesis after God said the work or creation was very good God rested. People need never forget what God has done for them and the Holy nature of God. Those who reject God and dishonor God are dead already as was made clear in the Garden of Eden. To reject God is the choice and death is the result. Putting in place harsh firm rules is demanded if you want to save a life. Once again God seeks to protect man from making a fatal mistake. I suspect few would want to test God or Moses in this regard.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • fred

      Exodus 21:7 provides for proper treatment and protection of maid servants. Extremely poverty stricken parents could not provide for their daughters and it was a blessing to sell them to a household that would provide well, care and protect them. In addition there was the hope she would marry into the family. As always God provides a way and protection

      May 2, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      See? Exactly what I said. Context. Such a magical word.

      May 2, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • fred

      What is your point? There is no way one could walk away from the Gospel of Jesus and say God is wicked and evil. You are one of a few because your extractions from the truth taken out of context form a picture that is the exact opposite of what is presented.

      May 2, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest


      We've had this discussion before, and neither of us is going to sway the other at all. So I really see no point in getting into this any further. I think the excuse of "context" is a poor one and shows the fallibility of the bible as any form of moral compass, and you think otherwise. We don't really have much choice but to leave it at that, since we both will stick to our guns based on the others arguments to the contrary.

      May 2, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • fred

      Setting the Bible aside (with the exception of Democrat sound bites) where can you get away with pulling something out of context and claiming it to be a valid view?

      May 2, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest


      Guess you really just don't want to drop it. I don't care what kind of context you think the bible is in. I have read the whole thing, multiple times, and everytime it just became clearer and clearer that that book had more divisiveness, hate, murder, and pettiness than any other I've read. I'm taking the bible as a whole, and saying that as a whole, it is an amoral book. You see it differently based on a few passages here and there. So who is really picking and choosing here fred?

      May 2, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest


      I'm also not going to debate this with you anymore fred. You have my arguments from previous threads, and you continue to justify your stance from context brought about by one of many interpretations. Neither will back down from our stances, so really it's just plain pointless.

      May 2, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • fred

      When it comes to hell I am guilty of picking and choosing the softest version and the one that limits the eternal fires to those that actually spent their existence bathed in it (Satan and his demons only) and would rather be there than with a bunch of God lovers.
      When it comes to the flood story I choose to notice that God blotted the wicked out (i.e. they never existed).
      The Bible always shows Gods people as they are in thier respective culture. You cannot sugar coat the way ancient nomatic tribes behaved and call it truth. In the same way you hit your date over the head with a club and take him or her to your cave expecting submission.

      May 2, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • Snow

      I don't want to divert in your conversation, but want to point out a couple of things wrong in your stance fred,

      – looks like you follow your god out of fear of not wanting to spend eternity in hell
      – you only do good to suck up to god and avoid the fires of hell. not because you believe doing good for goodness sake is correct.
      – you would rather follow any and every rule written in the bible simply because you think it makes god happy and you out of hell... rather than because you believe it is correct..

      points to the direction that you are a selfish a$$licker than a person with moral convictions.. now the question is, how true is it? No need to answer me or justify your stand.. but something you should ponder for yoruself as a thinking exercise.

      May 2, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  19. momoya

    What if the little boy has a medical condition that causes his wrist to bend?? The pastor doesn't allow for that possibility. 🙁

    May 2, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Johnny Blammo

      The little boy DOES have a medical condition: it's called a "stupid fucking dad!"

      May 2, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  20. DaveN

    It's "pastors" like this who make civilized, rational people run from organized religion. Does this asshat really think God wants people to beat their kids because of something over which they have no control? Those who follow this reprehensible advice will die alone, because their kids will run from them the day after their high school graduation. And rightly so.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • GeneK

      I have gay and lesbian friends who are estranged from their parents. None of them would tell you that they ran away from them. They were all driven out, and all would return in a heartbeat if their parents' arms were opened to them again.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Patrick

      I agree 100% Dave. I was raised Catholic and confirmed in the church (because I had little choice, thanks Mom and Dad). Now I can't stand what the Roman Catholic church preaches or supports. The last time I was at a service the priest railed for 20 minutes on how we should be ashamed that we don't give them more money. The church is just like any other business these days, paying homage to the almighty dollar. I'll worship in my own way thanks, organized religion is a sham.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
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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.