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. John in Vegas

    This pastor is a bully! His church and comments should be exposed nationally and condemned with the same ferocity as any other bigot and the organizations that condone their actions.

    We must speak out against hate speech in our churches and religious organizations. The bullying of gay teens (and adults) begins here borne out of religious dogma. Don't we realize that a gay teen who is told every Sunday that he risks an eternity in hell is also being bullied? Or that another person may justify his hurtful actions by what his pastor says in church? We abhor the behavior of a bully in school or in our neighborhood to the point of criminality, yet we accept and even promote the right of our religious leaders to express the same behavior in church. It is about time we put a stop to it!

    Anti-gay sentiment is not an expression of religious freedom. It is a form of bigotry that must not be tolerated in any form. We will never eliminate anti-gay bullying anywhere until we speak up and eliminate it in the pulpit first.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Voice of Reason


      May 2, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • atomD21

      Totally agree John. While people are free to say what they want in this country, hatred and bigotry need to be stricken from the pulpit.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  2. Mopery

    Any bets on how many boys that preacher has molested so far?

    May 2, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  3. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    May 2, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Rev. Sean Harris

      Prayer makes you beat children you suspect of homosexuality.


      May 2, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Andrew

      prayer to which God? which religion? just curious

      May 2, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • danielwalldammit

      I can see how it has helped this pastor.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
  4. Mr Chihuahua

    I think this pastor should suck 100 d!cks for Jesus lol!

    May 2, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Rev. Sean Harris

      I already have.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  5. Voice of Reason

    I went to catholic school in the first and second grade. I must have exhibited something that they didn't like because the nuns beat the living crap out of me with their very large wooden rosary beads.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  6. Thor

    I am sorry you were offended. I meant it as a joke, which you can clearly see in the video if you squint very very very hard . . . harder . . . and say LA!LA!LA! very loud through the whole thing.

    But I don't apologize the the Bible hates faggots. But I myself am not bigotted.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  7. Remember Caylee

    What a narrow-minded, arrogant idiot.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  8. Thor

    I wonder what he would think of someone who declared that children showing signs of religious belief should be whacked around until they stop?

    Man up!

    May 2, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Andrew

      let's be honest, he's only apologizing because it is in the media.. if it hadn't become public knowledge (in the media) he wouldn't have apologized. just my thoughts.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  9. Voice of Reason

    And you wonder why we have pis,sed-off atheists?

    May 2, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • SV

      Amen to that!

      May 2, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  10. polycarp pio

    I dont advocate beating up people who exhibit strange gestures, I dont equate limp wrist with sodomite tendencies. I am in fact surprised at some of the people who"come out", I would have had no indication they were sodomites. Punishment is for governments to undertake, Christians have every right to discipline there children, what passes for abuse now a days was very acceptable in earlier generations. When I went to high school in the 1970s many teachers slapped and beat students and we respected the teachers. This is a perverted generation. Many Christians make the false assumption that Jesus was soft on sin and they completely throw away the commandments of the father, you are twisting scripture to make yourself a personal version of Jesus that you like(Jesus2.0) go back to the whole counsel of God not just the NT. PP

    May 2, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Voice of Reason


      May 2, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Mrs. Olsen

      You, sir, are carrying around a heavy, sorrowful, insane set of beliefs.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • momoya

      @ VoR

      Polycarp pio is absolutely bat-sh!t crazy, if you hadn't noticed thus far.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      polycarp pio,,,,,,,,,,,, ,

      Perverted teachers of the 70's would smack and beat upon their "special" students in order to do just exactly what? and why? and what would be the results for beating upon any student? Today's controversialized teachers may never again beat theiir students into becoming a hater of the taught word!

      May 2, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • SV

      So will you kill your neighbor if he works on the sabbath?
      Are you willing to stone your daughter to death if she does not bleed on the martial bed?
      Are you willing to kill your children if they dont "honor" you?
      And let me guess, you are against abortion and for death penalty. Funny how these minds work. Actually more of sad and scary.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Mopery

      You realize of course that Jesus was a "bachelor", whose favorite pass-time was drinking wine with twelve other "bachelors" and preaching that they should all "love one another". How can you not recognize the hypocrisy?

      May 2, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Grammar Bolshevik

      It's "their children", you snake-handling, demi-literate, fundamentalist hill scoggin.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • sam stone

      speaking for god is blasphemy, poly.

      May 2, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  11. Jesus was Samoan!!

    Yopu know sh!t!! Jesus was Samoan! He a bronze skin son a Samoa he can slap you you stupid christian REDNECK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 2, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  12. Had One

    I'm sure in a few years we'll hear about his gay experience,
    Then it's off to rehab.....

    May 2, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  13. God's Oldest Dreamer

    Problematic will ever be the positionings leveraged consorts of pastorialships agenda issues! They play the roles of Christ and of God and yet their folded flockings of herdistic followers are too damned scared to figure out that their living mustard seeds being their children have all been replaced with seeds of tares!

    May 2, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  14. Larry David Sandwich

    This is why I became an atheist. Oh well, at least the shltball apologized....try getting a Muslim to do that.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • momoya

      His 'apology' wasn't one.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Larry David Sandwich

      Dude, I don't ƒuckin care. I'm not going to stress my sphincter because a goofball in NC preaches hate. YOU go lose sleep and spew your self-righteous indignation. I'm going to enjoy another IPA and play basketball with my gay son.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Larry David Sandwich

      I'm going to stress my sphincter about Muslims instead.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Erica

      Mr. Sandwich, I wish my father were more like you. Seriously. You have one lucky son!

      May 2, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  15. galileo225

    Religion doesnt make you holy, pure or godly. Its makes it easy for idiots like this to hide their true selves.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • bcinva

      Truthfully he's not hiding anything. He said exactly what he meant and meant what he said and now the hypocrite is apologizing and claiming it was a joke? Wake up people this kind of hatred is commonly preached from the pulpit.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  16. googoogaga

    he is a flamer

    May 2, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Bob

      Please don't insult gay folks that way! He's straight and needs to stay that way!

      May 2, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  17. doughnuts

    Here's what his apology really said: I'm sorry I got caught saying what I really think.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  18. Paul in Atlanta

    Ever wonder where kids get the idea that it's okay to beat up the kids who are different at school? I've seen enough of this good christian love, that I've turned my back on the church.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • atomD21

      There is absolutely nothing Christian about this or any of the religion-backed hatred in the world. If these people would spend some time actually following Jesus' example, they would realize that what we call Christianity in this country is a disgusting mutation at best.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  19. Fiona

    So did God tell him to say the wrong thing? Is saying God made a mistake, or that he edits God's message? What a hypocritical, hateful little man.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  20. Heinz Doofenshmirtz

    He is probably gay himself and does not want to own it.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Rob

      ...apparently, he needs an AntiGayinator.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Christianity Evil Incorporated

      Definitely a Roy Cohn thing.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Joe Canadian

      Curse you jesus the Platypus!

      May 2, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Erica

      This thread is amazing.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
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