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May 23rd, 2012
12:57 PM ET

Mixed reactions around church whose pastor’s anti-gay rant went viral

By Ismael Estrada, CNN

Maiden, North Carolina (CNN) – Just about everyone here is talking about the local pastor who made national headlines this week after a video that features him telling congregants how to “get rid of” gays went viral.

Neighbors of the Providence Road Baptist Church – where a sign advertises “old time religion” - say Pastor Charles Worley is known for being over the top, with one neighbor describing him as “fire and brimstone” whose views are out of sync with much of the surrounding community.

"I figured a way out, a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers, but I couldn't get it past the Congress,” Worley told his church on May 13, in a video that has been seen half a million times on YouTube.

“Build a great big, large fence  50 or 100 miles long  and put all the lesbians in there,” Worley said. “Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals, and have that fence electrified so they can't get out. Feed them. And you know in a few years, they'll die out. You know why? They can't reproduce."

My Take: The Christian case for gay marriage

Some church members, who declined to give their names, defended their pastor, saying his words had been taken out of context. "He said he would feed them!" some church members told CNN, referring to the Worley’s idea for rounding up gays.

Worley “takes a real firm stand on the Bible and what it says about different things,” said church member Joe Heffner. “Whether I like it or not or whether anybody else likes it."

Another church member, who declined to give his name, said that “Being gay and lesbian or homosexual is wrong according to the Bible… it’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve."

My Take: The Bible condemns a lot, but here's why we focus on homosexuality

"We love the people, hate the sin, OK? Point blank,” he continued. “You need to lay off my pastor."

The pastor's sermon also attacked President Obama, with Worley saying that "I ain’t going to vote for a baby killer and a homosexual lover."

On Wednesday, the group Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a complaint with the IRS alleging that Worley violated the rules of his church's tax-exempt status by engaging in political speech against a candidate.

“Pastor Worley’s vicious and mean-spirited assault on gays and lesbians is bad enough,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “His pulpit command that people not vote for President Obama is a violation of federal tax law. I urge the IRS to act swiftly to investigate this matter.”

Video of the sermon had initially been posted on Providence Road’s website but was recently taken down, according to CNN affiliate WBTV-TV in Charlotte. The phone line at Worley’s church has been busy since Monday night, and Worley’s home number has been busy since Tuesday.

The church’s website has also been down, but it had described the house of worship as fundamentalist, meaning it represents a Baptist tradition that's more conservative than the Southern Baptists.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Worley’s sermon was posted on YouTube by a group called Catawba Valley Citizens Against Hate, which is organizing a protest at the Providence Road Baptist Church on Sunday.

Addressing his congregation last Sunday, Worley referred to his earlier controversial sermon.

"I talked a little bit, I believe it was last Sunday, on the homosexual lifestyle, and there was a whole lot of people who didn't like what I said," Worley told his congregation Sunday, according to WBTV. "I want to read it out of the Bible, and then we'll go from there."

“Listen, all of the Sodomites, the lesbians, and all of the ... what's that word? Gays  I didn't wanna say 'queers'  that say we don't love you, I love you more than you love yourself,” Worley said, according to WBTV. “I'm praying for you to be saved."

Worley’s initial sermon was partly framed as a response to Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage, which he made in a TV interview a day after North Carolina voters passed a state constitutional amendment banning legal recognition of such marriages and other types of gay unions.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, was working Tuesday to gather criticism of Worley’s comments from other North Carolina pastors.

“I am angry and sick at heart over Pastor Worley's comments,” said the Rev. Dennis Teall-Fleming, pastor at Open Hearts Gathering in Gastonia, North Carolina, in a statement distributed by GLAAD.

“Nothing he says has anything to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Teall-Fleming, who leads a Disciples of Christ congregation. “I call on all Christian and Baptist organizations that have any connection with him to condemn his comments as strongly as I do, including Providence Road Baptist Church of Maiden.”

–CNN's Dan Gilgoff contributed reporting.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Homosexuality • North Carolina

soundoff (1,677 Responses)
  1. Dfrye

    I can honestly say Jesus would be APPALLED at the hatred, bigotry, judgment and animosity served up and spewed by today's so called "CHRISTIANS". It's sad that they claim to "preach" his teachings. Only REAL Christians love and accept everyone regardless of our differences. REAL Christians do not teach bigotry and hate and REAL Christians know we have no business judging others. These types people are zealots and lunatics who have absolutely NO understanding of Biblical teachings or history and I'm embarrassed they lump themselves in and pretend to represent themselves as Christians. It is no wonder people have such animosity towards any type or organized religion when hateful people like this are the only ones that get media attention.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • D

      No disrespect or anything, but if I had a nickel for every time I saw something like "so and so isn't a *real* Christian ...", I could retire in comfort tomorrow!

      May 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Bertha

      Sweety! If all of the pastors in the country got the same media attention, the church would be in the hot seat. This sermon was not written yesterday. The sermon has made the rounds for generations.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • let the potheads out of the closet

      Just saying let the potheads out of the closet

      May 23, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "I can honestly say Jesus would be APPALLED at the hatred, bigotry, judgment and animosity served up and spewed by today's so called "CHRISTIANS". It's sad that they claim to "preach" his teachings. Only REAL Christians love and accept everyone regardless of our differences."

      That's why they continue to vote against giving gays their civil rights, they don't follow the teachings of your Christs.

      The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

      May 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  2. Patrick

    Next step for the Pastor (since we've seen this all before): He'11 come out and claim that his remarks might have been a little overboard but nothing compared to the death threats he and his family have gotten. All of which will only be an attempt to vindicate himself and make quarrrs and le $bi ans look worse.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Patrick

      In other words, right now he's in the process of convincing himself he's the poor helpless maligned victim. Abusers are great about doing that.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Rebecca

      Victimization has been the church yell since at least 2003 when the Supreme Court told Americans to stop demeaning gay people through the case Texas vs. Lawrence. Not only did the church not listen, but they dug in deeper with righteous indignation concerning freedom of religion – which really means freedom to thwart the inalienable rights of those few men over there, those women back there, all of those people in that corner and naturally every single one of those women up there. All men are created equal has never registered on their radar.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • WOW

      @pepperment patty patrick: Grow up. You need some mental help. You think he is a victim? What about all those POOR LITTLE GAYs out there that get their feeling hurt if someone goes BOO! You know they live in fairy land, Oh yea you do to patrick. Grow up, life is not easy and there will always be hate and gays... When will you EVER realize that fact?

      May 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "You think he is a victim? What about all those POOR LITTLE GAYs out there that get their feeling hurt if someone goes BOO! "

      They are fighting for their civil rights. Duh! You sound just like all the other prejudice people in history that tried to block African American and women civil rights. Grow up.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • WOW

      @Yeah: Moron, why didn't you comment on the true fact.. there will always be haters and gays? Thats right... you can't because that is the TRUTH!

      May 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  3. Eli

    Hateful rhetoric like this is what will turn the tide in the fight for equality, just like Emmett Till's tortured corpse and fire hoses turned on children helped rally support for the Civil Rights movement in the '60s. In that sense, I guess I'm grateful for what Pastor Worley said.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • let the potheads out of the closet

      let the potheads out of the closet!!!!

      May 23, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  4. anniem

    Matthew 25:40 And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'

    May 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Natalie

      That never happened. No one actually ever said that.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  5. let the potheads out of the closet

    let the potheads out of the closet

    May 23, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  6. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Conspirring to commit mass murder is a serious crime! However, mass suicide is not! So pastor Worley, why don't you go ahead and do a Jim Jones and take your congregation out for some Kool-Aid? Bye!

    May 23, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  7. David Camin

    His views are nothing different from Hitler. Hitler gathered up all the gays and killed them along with the Jews. I wonder what his stand is on Jews if he is that hateful. It's sad that people actually follow him. They aren't learning the gift of love Christ has to offer. They are only learning the hate of man. I pray for him and his church members.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Ronny

      This is the sermon I heard on my first visit to church at the age of 14 in 1978. I've never been back. I never went to church before because we did not have formal clothes like all of the other people in town. I felt like an outsider to begin with and after hearing this sermon which I supposed was aimed at me, I quickly left when they opened the doors.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  8. Christine

    "We love the people, hate the sin, OK? Point blank,”....
    This "hate-the-sin-love-the-sinner" mentality, on the part of these right wing nut jobs, cracks me up. What part of fencing gays in, with electricity involved, is "loving"?

    May 23, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Fuyuko

      Its just a fake way of saying you hate gays. Because gay people can't help being or acting gay anymore than a straight person can.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • WOW

      Its to keep them safe from all the haters against the gay community because they cry so much... a bunch of wounded ducks... quack quack LOL Rainbows and unicorns! GO GO GO! LOL...

      May 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Primewonk

      The ironic thing is that "hate the sin, but love the sinner" appears nowhere in the bible. In fact, it's a quote from Gandhi – a Hindu.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  9. jbgood314

    If the Bible says that it's wrong and the Bible is the word of god: then GOD NEEDS TO GROW UP!

    May 23, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  10. Mike

    These yahoos won't be defending him when their church has to start paying taxes . . .

    May 23, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  11. Anna

    That's the most disgusting thing I've ever read. I think HE should be put inside the electrified fence to die off...by himself...no food.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Florist

      Soooo, he suggested feeding people and keeping them alive, and you're suggesting starving a man to death- and HE'S the disgusting one? Good one. You're fairly disgusting yourself.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  12. wisdomVS

    Rev. Worley's statement is a direct insult to the Gay CHRISTIAN Community. He may have well have slapped me in the face. Is he so ignorant and backward that he doesn't know we exist? We have our own churches, we have faith in God, we sing the same hymns as they do and use the same bible... but we do not preach hate, prejudice and political preference. We show tolerance, love and understanding. We put most of our money into the communities we serve, not into our pastor's wallet or a big fancy building. We know how to be true servants of our Lord. Unfortunately, Rev. Worley doesn't and he proved it to us all.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • WOW

      Your momma should have slapped you in the face when you came out of the closet!!! Why don't you cry just a little bit more????

      May 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  13. Patrick

    You'd think a Pastor in an area like this would have more immediate concerns, like inbreeding and crystal meth.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • No need to believe

      Nope.... Fear the gays cause they apparently can't fill the poolpit..... But jokes on them because with out the gays who will adopt their followers broken home children.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • lisaspups

      I live in NC, but even I had to laugh at that!

      May 23, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Patrick

      @lisapups – Lol. I live in Oklahoma and really the rural areas here aren't much different. If anything they're worse.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  14. james anon

    How many adulterers do you reckon are in his church and he says nothing about them. God's penalty for adulturey is Death.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Terri

      So is eating shell fish

      May 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  15. MsBeeSpeaks

    Wow – this is ridiculous and scary. This is why I left the church. I was looking for peace and love and instead found hate and comdemnation for anyone that did not conform or was outside their belief system. Bullying at its best to make themselves feel better. I am clearly ashamed and saddened by NC who will forever be imprinted in my mind as the "hate state".

    May 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Terri

      We had planned a summer trip to NC but changed our plans with the recent vote and the hate spewing "pastors". I know NC is far from the only state being so evil but it was the only thing we could do right now.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Florist

      So leave the church. That's your right. But it's also the right of this closet case to believe what he wants and to say what he wants. And those who agree with him have the right to listen to him. I'm tired of people telling other people what to believe. This isn't the freaking Spanish Inquisition.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Florist

      Um, Terri? States aren't evil. Most states are enormous physical areas that are inhabited my millions of people. If you truly believe that your soundbite news is telling you the truth and that states are either red or blue, evil or good, then you probably shouldn't travel anyway. Just stay home. No one wants you in their state.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Um, Florist? The point is – this just isn't about free speech. Earlier this month a whopping 61% of these folks voted to say "screw the constîtution – no marriage for gay folks!"

      May 23, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  16. Fuyuko

    I love it when Xtians say, 'love the sinner, hate the sin' because, welp, gay people can't exactly help being gay. That is who they are. So basically they are saying they hate gay people. Just stop saying you love people when you obviously don't, because if you tried to understand gay people you'd understand they are born that way. Not everyone believes in sin either. Its a relgiious construct that only christianity has the 'cure for' don't you think that's a bit strange?

    May 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Terri

      It is more than a "bit" strange, it is all out ridiculous.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  17. urouttolunch

    My guess is, this guy will be in the news not too long from now, caught indulging his own proclivities – male, maybe underage - like so many before him.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  18. fritz

    I'm amused by the anti-ga-y preacher and his brutal rant against them. The mainstream Christians are embarrassed by it and scrambling for cover while we of the humanist persuasion occassionally take notice to watch the mud fly. The ga-y folks have nothing to fear from this stupid preacher.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  19. guesswho22

    why that church hasn't been burned is still beyond belief

    May 23, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • If Nabateans had Gods ... their Gods would be blocks of stone

      Probably because angry atheist sheep just run their mouths and do very little else.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Wrath of Zeus

      Lol! Atheist sheep?! Christians are the biggest sheep of all you dipsh•t. Blind faith? Ring a bell?

      May 23, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Horus

      Or perhaps non-believers aren't quite as angry, or violent as you suggest. What' wrong with an approach of reason and logic? Why burn the church? Let him spew his hate. It only proves non-believers points about religion.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  20. GayCantProcreate_So_UseYourBrain

    Honestly, the Pastor is 100% correct... tood bad we live in a society ruled by fear... controlled by vested-interests who ATTACK common sense critics... WE have allowed this entropy to occur in our damaged society. The pastor needs a good lawyer. Can you help him? Don't turn your backs on this righteous man.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Mary

      How do you see the keyboard with your pinhead so far up your a$$?

      May 23, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Zachary

      You left your underwear in my hotel room. I'll be here all day. Call me! Sweety Pie!

      May 23, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • urouttolunch

      good on ya, Mary. I was going to respond, but I think you did a fine job.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      So...let me get this straight. You agree with a man who systematically wishes to eliminate a group of people by putting them in a concentration camp, and let them die off slowly, simply because he views them as a threat to society?

      I think there was a man in the late 1930s and early 1940s in Germany who held similar views...

      May 23, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • guesswho22

      its amazing just how tolerant victims of ignorance and religious nutjobs have been so far. I think if you people keep spewing hatred, religion, and intolerance as you are increasingly doing, a breaking point in society will soon be reached and you people will wish you were in hell. America believes in freedom of speech, but to quote you nutjobs – speech has consequences! Good luck, pin heads

      May 23, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • situationalawareness

      You'll be judged when the time comes, and not by man. At least according to the bible.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Nunez

      Hurry, you can still catch the last bus to Bigotville.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Seriously?

      He doesn't need a lawyer, what the good pastor needs is a lesson in the Christianity he purports to believe in...

      May 23, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • LinCA

      @GayCantProcreate_So_UseYourBrain

      You said, "Honestly, the Pastor is 100% correct."
      You spelled incorrect wrong.

      You said, "tood bad we live in a society ruled by fear... controlled by vested-interests who ATTACK common sense critics..."
      You are describing religion to a T. There is no common sense in religion and it is the ultimate carrot-and-stick tale. Without fear of an afterlife in hell, those at the top of the religious pyramid would lose their advantage over their sheeple.

      You said, "The pastor needs a good lawyer."
      I sure hope so. His despicable acts should be investigated, and he should be prosecuted if his hate speech is found to be in violation of the law.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:44 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.