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.
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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.
Does anyone honestly believe he meant a parent should punch their child in a way that would hurt them? If so, you lack all common snese. It was much more liely that he meant give them a punch on the arm, as guys are know to do to eachother.
He admitted he chose his words poorly, but the reaction is way over the top.
Are you really that niave? He said exactly what he meant. It was only a joke when he was called on it.
Now that I'll give an AMEN to. Of course, there are plenty who just want to overreact to a nothing story like this. For some others, it is obvious why they don't go to church, because they can't distinguish poor hyperbole from literal truth. That's a bad spot to be in, and I hope they figure it out.
ARE YOU KIDDING WITH THIS? Apparently, you have never been on the receiving end off the punch after coming out. Walk in my shoes and you will understand that ANY remarks spouted in a position of authority are taken to heart by the many mindless boobs that cannot think for themselves.
You lack common sense if you can't see that his (and many religious folks) tactic for dealing with something he disagrees with is to bully the "offender". Be it a "punch in the arm", chronic criticisms, etc.... He's a bully in front of his flock; he's a coward when called on it.
He advocated using violence to create fear of acting in a way that he considers gay. You do not punch a buddy in the arm to create fear but to kid them, and he is not advocating kidding or male bonding.
Man up and admit the truth.
Steve, I'm sorry you were hit, and I'm sorry you feel that it was language like this that encouraged it. I assume you don't think that the person who hit you was following Jesus' teaching to love his neighbor like himself, do you? Neither do I. Neither does this pastor or, hopefully, his congregation. You are right to be angry about someone who hit you, and to be angry at someone who says you should be hated. I believe you are mistaken to take out your anger on Christians in general.
Joe, I most certainly think he was referencing a buddy-buddy kind of hitting. You tell a guy to "man up" and you hit him in the shoulder. You make too much out of this. Is that because you want to demonize the man?
ReasonableChristian...he demonized himself. The outrage is completely justified. Being gay is not a sin. PERIOD!
REASONABLE: No I don't believe the person that hit me was following the teachings of Christ; he was, however, listening to a idiot preach hate from the pulpit. AND i don't take out my my anger on Christians, just hateful idiots like this guy.
If you don't believe the Bible, then how could it be a "sin" to you? Is there anything you believe is a "sin"?
Steve, do you mind me asking what type of preaching influenced the person who hit you? If you are talking of churches like Westboro Baptist, who appear to me to hate people, not sin, then I am behind you 100%. To make a firm judgment on the pastor in question, I'd have to get to know him or see more of his sermons, but I think people have made way too big a deal of this from what I heard. What he said, using hyperbole, does not ring of hate to me.
REASONABLE: I think its people like you that make our society dangerous...you simply try to explain away others hate and dimented philosophy.
Definition of SIN
1a : an offense against religious OR MORAL LAW b : an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible c : an often serious shortcoming : fault
2a : transgression of the law of God b : a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God
You don't have to be religious to sin. You don't have to be religious to have morals. Just because some of us don't have a religion to follow doesn't mean we lack morals.
@ RationalChristianity – What utter bullshît. Here is what this cretin said, " "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.”
I swear to god (sorry) that one day, one of you fundiots is going to begin spinning so fast you will collapse into a black hole.
This is the way of organized religion. Instill fear, hatred, intolerance, and above all, unquestionable adherence to whatever the ordained leader says. I have come across so many people that are outspoken about what they dislike, only to find out later they were themselves what the professed to dislike. If you love God, or Jesus, or Muhammad, fine, keep it to yourself. All religions claim to be the one and only true religion. When in fact, organized religion is only to keep control of people and nothing more.
Actually, Joe, the REAL purpose of religion is to get your money! Control of people is merely a tool in the process of separating a fool and his money. Religion is like a game of Three Card Monty – you are going to get bamboozled and fleeced, and you may also get screwed without getting kissed.
Whether he meant it or not, it's irresponsible and he should be removed from that position of influence. Unfortunately, a lot of people see this as truth because of so-called "biblical" support. I believe in God; that religion, for the most part, is beneficial and good. But it is also harmful, and this is a classic example. Leave the judging to God, and always be proud of your kids.
Where did this pastor say not to be proud of your kids? He simply used poor hyperbole to encourage Christians to be firm in teaching their children that h.o.m.o.s.e.x.u.a.l behavior is a sin according to the Bible. No loving parent wants their child to sin.
Seriously? I can't write h.o.m.o.s.e.x.u.a.l without getting moderated? It must be a bad word. 🙂
Well therein lines the real issue...the Bible; the so-called Word of God. Do you really believe that God sat down one day and penned the Bible? The Bible is an anthology of human works, which should be obvious because it is full of contradiction.
I don't believe God sat down one day an penned the Bible. I do, however, believe that he inspired people to write the Bible. Do I believe it? Yes, I do. I've studied it for many years, and I've studied the supposed contradictions perpetually trotted out by atheists. If you don't believe the Bible, that is your choice, but it is intolerant of Christianity to require that they must accept what the Bible calls a sin.
"I don't believe God sat down one day an penned the Bible. I do, however, believe that he inspired people to write the Bible"
Those people had personal biases and prejudices too are you going to support Pauls other prejudices too? or don't you really understand what they are? LOL! The bible doesn't condemn the saved loving respectful partnership of a gay couple as we know and understand it today. Part of reading comprehension 101 is you put it into historical context to get the real meaning. What Christians are cherry picking out of their bibles has nothing to do with what the experts have shown about gays as we know and understand it today.
@ RationalChristianity – homôsèxuality is an orientation, not a behavior. You can no more change your orientation than you can your handedness, eye color or race.
I wonder why you are unable or unwilling to understand this?
Perhaps the saddest part is that the congregation eggs him on and actually laughs when he says to punch the boy for effeminate behavior.
"The congregation appears to be nothing more than mindless followers of BS artist.
I don't get why people automatically jump to your conclusion. I've been in plenty of talks, lectures or otherwise, where someone said something "off color" and people laughed because they knew the person didn't really mean it. People often remind Christians they're not supposed to judge, but then right after reminding them they turn around and jump to judgmental conclusions.
I wonder how many in his flock are actually gay? Many more than he would ever admit. What is he going to do, beat them all?
Reasonable – people also tend to laugh when they are guilty of the same thoughts – a show of affirmation and agreement. Been to see a stand-up comic – people laugh because they are guilty of the behaviors called out.
get real "reasonable Christianity....spouting crap like he did can destroy a young person who is in the midst of trying to figure out why he or she is having these "terrible" feelings and are now wondering if when they get home, mom and dad are going to beat them or kick them out of the house-and believe me, it happens every day.
Steve, I strongly doubt this pastor was encouraging parents to beat their children. First, he didn't use the word beat, and I am certain the majority of rational people would have understood this as one male buddy hitting another on the shoulder. He said nothing hateful. I have not seen conclusive scientific evidence that children are "born this way", but even if they are, sinful behavior should be discouraged. People are born with genetic predisposition toward violence, but we don't accept their tendency toward violence. People are born with genetic predisposition toward addiction, but we don't accept and encourage it.
REASONABLE: Maybe you should watch it again.
This is why we need a strong separation of church and state. NC voters will get a chance do the right thing next week. Early voting has already started.
Hate crime !!! Kinda amazing, King James after who the bible is named was Gay.......
I think what he was saying was taking out on context. He didn't mean to beat the child as punishment, he meant like a tap on the shoulder on some "manly" ya know the way some mean who can't express emotions do? I don't agree not showing emotions or feelings, my father hugged me and told me he loved me. Obviously this guy doesn't with his children (if he had them). Anyway he ain't saying "beat your children for being gay or acting like a woman" Hes just saying if the kid is acting out his gender then take them closer and remind them
Did you see the same report that we did? You sound as dilusional as him.
He says flat out to punch the kid in the face, to break his wrist.
It isn't a metaphor. It isn't hyperbole. He says it flat out.
CNN, I think you accidentally reposted an article from the 70s.
No, it seems they're just trying to smear Christianity again. Nothing new though.
Reasonable – how is CNN smearing Christianity by posting a viral video whose content illustrates hate? You are an apologist trying to justify something that can't be justified without bigotry. You are just upset because this was done in a "christian" backdrop where "you" perceive it doesn't belong. IMO this guy represents typical christian ideology to the core.
ReasonableChristianity said, "No, it seems they're just trying to smear Christianity again. Nothing new though."
The fact is that christianity does well enough smearing itself. It needs no outside help. CNN was just reporting the facts. Apparently, christians don't like it when people report the facts about things they say and do. Here is a clue – if you don't say it or do it, then nobody can write articles like this about the things you say or do!
Let's see. Why do I believe CNN is just trying to undermine Christianity? Constant use of liberal Christian theology. And then there's the story that was on the front page of CNN on the holiest day of the Christian calendar. On the day we believe Christ rose from the dead, CNN chose to place an article on the front page questioning the existence of a historical Jesus. Would they or will they do such a thing to Islam?
A GOOD person would have walked out of that church.
Yet we hear laughter and "amens" in support of what he's preaching..... likeminded sheep.
Because saying nothing, walking out, and never coming back fixes everything. People who leave church because of something rather than trying to fix it are perplexing.
Or Just do not go to the church that have this close minded pastor teaching.
Mother Teresa did not try to fix the church or her religion. She simply lost her faith.
The faster people follow in her lead the better the world will be.
The reason no one walked out is because there were no real Christians there in that Church. Just like there were no real Christians who were a part of the Spanish Inquisition or who called for the burning of witches or who were involved in the gassing of Jews and the infirm and the mentally ill and communists and ad infinitum in the Concentration Camps of Nazi Germany. In fact one might honestly wonder if there have ever been any Christians because there have never seemed to have been any who have ever spoken out about injustices. But there sure have been a lot of those who call themselves Christians who are willing to commit every form of atrocity in the name of Jesus. Google "depleted uranium baby images" to see what those who are just saying they are Christians are not enraged over.
Horus, those "other gospels" that were written... Do you know when they are dated? They are dated later than the 4 well-testified gospels. Do you know where those "other gospels" were found? Egypt, where gnosticism flourished. You think the BIble makes outlandish claims, then how about a talking cross that reaches into the heavens? Are those the gospels you want to believe? And of course, the earliest writings of the church mention the 4 gospels and also mention many of the ones not accepted as having come from the apostles. I see no good reason not to believe that there was a stream of tradition in those early days. I see plenty of reason for others who didn't like the message to corrupt it and make it more suitable to their contemporaries...not unlike today.
"4 well-testified gospels"....you mean the ones that were written at least 70 years or more after jesus supposed death. Meaning, they were not witnesses to what they wrote....Yea, well-tested. LOL
What a sad outlook. I wonder if the real Christians realize that their faith is developing a fringe hate group? Much like Muslim extremists in Islam.
At what point does the definition change to represent what seems to be a majority? When the majority of Christians want to undereducate our kids, deny rights to citizens, limit scientific advancement, and tell women they are not in charge of their own bodies...does the definition of the word "Christian" not change?
If I were a god-fearing, Jesus-loving, follower of Christ, I would not want to be associated with what Christian has come to describe.
Define "real" Christian......
Real Christian: One who follows the teachings of Christ. Non-judgmental, non-condemning, non-hating. Like a Buddhist, but believes in the Biblical accounts of their faith.
D – so essentially there aren't any "real" christians.....
And Horus, a REAL Christian would be one who actually knew, understood and followed the teachings of Jesus H. Christ rather than claiming to be a "true believer" while doing the exact opposite. Does that clarify it for you? Those who act like the preacher in this story are merely hypocrites who have a personal agenda that is not in line with what Jesus taught.
Wes, I suppose my question would be "how does anyone know what Jesus taught?". You don't. You assume gospel written after his time is accurate ( I don't ). What about other gospels discovered that illustrate a much different "christ"? How do you know which version of Christ to follow? Religion has too many holes...
Horus, my response to your comments about the gospels wound up under the previous comment for some reason if you care to read it.
The South should secede. And then change their name to Dumbfûckistan.
Hey, not everyone in the south is an ignorant redneck. They do need to rethink their concept of religious adherence though.
Thank you for generalizing a whole region of the country down to this m0ron's level. Most of us here in the south are as appalled by this as you are.
You don't see me judging all of the north by an episode of the Jersey Shore, do you?
Congrats, you're *almost* as ignorant as this piece of garbage.
That was original. Did you get that from one of the TED talks where people who think they're intelligent pontificate on religion and other topics?
What an ignorant statement about the Southern United States. The guy is terrible and absolutely disgusting and I would be hard pressed to find a single person I know down here that would even slightly agree with that rhetoric. Please change your way of thinking and we all will be better. Perpetuating the same thoughts about a group of people... the same way the pastor did.
Muslims believe that angels play an active part in the lives of human beings. This begins soon after conception and continues until the moment of death. Angels and human beings even interact in the afterlife. Angels usher people into Paradise and guard the gates of Hell. Belief in the angels is one of the fundamental beliefs of Islam.
From the traditions of Prophet Muhammad, we understand that a few months after conception life is breathed into it by the permission of God. An angel then writes the answer to four questions in this human being’s book of deeds. Will it be male or female? Will this person be happy or sad? How long will his or her life span be, and will this person perform good or bad deeds?
There are angels responsible for guarding people throughout their lives.
“For each (person), there are angels in succession, before and behind him. They guard him by the Command of God.” (Quran 13:10)
Each person has been assigned two recording angels. These angels have honourable scribes and their duty is to write down all the good and bad deeds.
“. . . and He sends guardians (angels guarding and writing all of one’s good and bad deeds) over you . . .” (Quran 6:61)
“Or do they think that We hear not their secrets and their private counsel? (Yes We do) and Our Messengers (appointed angels in charge of humankind) are by them, to record.” (Quran 43:80)
“(Remember!) that the two receivers (recording angels) receive (each human being after he or she has attained the age of puberty), one sitting on the right and one on the left (to note his or her actions). Not a word does he (or she) utter, but there is a watcher by him ready (to record it).” (Quran 50:17-18)
“But verily, over you (are appointed angels in charge of humankind) to watch you,Kiraaman (honourable) kaatibeen – writing down (your deeds).” (Quran 82:10-11)
The angels record in an honourable yet strict manner. Not a single word is left unrecorded. However, as always, God’s mercy is evident. Prophet Muhammad, may God praise him, explained that God has defined and given details about the methodology of recording good and evil deeds. “Whoever intended to do a good deed, but did not do it, it is written for him as a complete good deed. If he actually performed the good deed then it is written as ten good deeds, or up to seven hundred times or more. If a person intended to do an evil deed, but did not do it, it is written as a good deed, while if he entertained the thought and acted on it, it is written as a single evil deed.”
The renowned Islamic scholar Ibn Kathir commented on Quran 13:10-11 by saying, “Each person has angels who take turns in guarding him by night and day, who protect him from evil and from accidents, just as other angels take turns in recording his deeds, good and bad, by night and by day.”
“Two angels, on the right and the left, record his deeds. The one on the right writes down good deeds and the one on his left writes down evil deeds. Two other angels guard him and protect him, one from behind, and one from in front. So there are four angels by day and four others by night.”
Apart from the four angels constantly with each human being, guarding, and recording, other angels continually visit human beings. In his traditions, Prophet Muhammad reminds his followers that they are constantly being visited by angels. He said, “Angels come to you in succession by night and day and all of them get together at the time of the Fajr (early morning) and Asr (afternoon) prayers. Those who have passed the night with you (or stayed with you) ascend (to the Heaven) and God asks them, though He knows everything about you well, “In what state did you leave my slaves?” The angels reply: “When we left them they were praying and when we reached them, they were praying.” They gather to witness the prayer and listen to the recited verses of Quran.
It can therefore be understood that angels are very much involved with the life of human beings and this interaction does not end when the angel of death removes the soul, nor does it end after the angels question the deceased person is his grave. Angels are the gatekeepers of Paradise.
“And those who kept their duty to their Lord will be led to Paradise in groups, till, when they reach it, its gates will be opened and its keepers will say: Assalamu alaikum (May God’s peace be upon you!). You have done well, so enter here, to abide therein.” (Quran 39:73)
“And angels shall enter unto them from every gate (saying), “Assalamu Alaikum (May God’s peace be upon you) for you persevered in patience! Excellent indeed is the final home!” (Quran13:23)
Angels are also the gatekeepers of Hell.
“And what will make you know exactly what Hell-fire is? It spares not (any sinner), nor does it leave (anything unburnt)! Burning the skins! Over it are nineteen (angels as guardians and keepers of Hell). And We have set none but angels as guardians of the Fire, and We have fixed their number only as a trial for the disbelievers – in order that the People of the Scripture may arrive at a certainty and the believers may increase in Faith.” (Quran74:27-31)
God created the angels from light. They are unable to disobey God and follow His orders without flinching or hesitating. Angels worship God. It is their sustenance. These noble creatures play a significant role in the life of human beings. They guard and protect, record and report, and gather with human beings who remember God.
GET REAL. No one hear is discussing Islam.
"Truth of the Word of God"? There is no evidence of any truth of any word of a god. It's so typical of bible believers to claim truth to their made up stories.
Most of the Bible IS historically correct, actually, including the birth and death of Jesus. Though, I do not agree with this man's words- they are a perversion of the Bible.
The history of the bible may be true but no one can prove that the "magic" surrounding Jesus is true. Jesus may have existed but no evidence to prove he was not just a regular man with great ideas who loved and had a family.
This pastor is advocating and encouraging bullying and physical abuse ("cracking" & "punching") as tools to be used by parents with their own children who might display a limp wrist or unladylike behavior, all done, of course, in the name of God. There is no mystery as to why bullying and gay teen suicide are at such high levels. Just look at Pastor Harris & others like him for the answer. He should be arrested for enabling and encouraging criminal behavior within a family unit.
It is never acceptable to punch your child or break his wrists, rather true Christians know parents are supposed to stone their disobedient children to death as in Deuteronomy 21:18-21.
Religion is a disease. Nothing has done more to turn men against each other like religion has for thousands of years. Individual spirituality is fine. Organized religion needs to end and fervently religious people like this pastor need to go the way of the Dodo. Except the Dodo was a more intelligent creature.
What a non-apology. He was basically advocating child abuse (give him a good punch? Seriously?) – what on earth does that have to do with marriage? And when you're talking about beating a child because you suspect they did something that might imply they might be gay...yeah, you didn't mean to offend. Sure. Probably another self hating closet case.
Always amazes me that some who claim to have all the answers and are so close to God are so angry and scared and hateful, and how they can distort an entire faith to make it fit their own needs, throwing away the real message in the process.
punching a child is illegal. this man should be charge with inciting child abuse!!!
From this article it appears that Pastor Harris apolgized for offending anyone but the information you provided does not say he categorically retracts what he said. Also, for a Pastor to state that his sermons are meant as a joke makes me wonder if any of his other sermons are also meant as a joke. To me, this type of recommendation is clearly not funny, but he has the right to say his version of the Word of God.