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. Terri

    This sick pastor is instilling the belief that h0m0$exu@l$ should be killed. Here you have an entire cult being lead by a lunatic who is teaching them de@th to an entire group of people is righteous...scary stuff folks, very scary stuff.

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

      The hillbillys in Texas have that same facial structure.

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

      Yes, I live in ATX, you are correct...

      May 23, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  2. Feanor

    Sad truth: The only position of authority an idiot like this could ever hope to attain is one of religious authority.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Terri

      Yep, over a cult group as sick as he is and probably lead even easier. Frightening isn't it?

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

      There was a time when you didn't need any formal education to become a pastor. I guess North Carolina is still living with the remnants.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  3. paul

    These same fundamentalist pastors say that God controls everything. If that is the case then He put Obama in the while house. He creates all people and that includes gays and lesbians. Pastor Worley needs to repent in a hurry or he will be heading the wrong direction when he leaves this earth. It may be too late already.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • FLIndependent

      You're right about President Obama. I remember the night of the '08 election when Palin proclaimed that God would put the right person in the White House and, lo and behold, Obama won!!

      May 24, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  4. Josh

    ' "He said he would feed them!" some church members told CNN '

    Oh, then its OK.


    May 23, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Mike

      Feed them to what?


      May 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  5. guesswho22

    Amercians who practice Christian religions aren't followers of Jesus, because I've read the myth known as the Bible. They are mere fans of Jesus, at best. That's why they are so full of hatred, rage, intolerance, bigotry, and ignorance. They chewed the backs off the books they were supposed to have read in the public school system and made love to their only source that backs their racism, bigotry, and hatred... the Bible. If you have to be "God fearing" to be a Christian, then keep your evil God who kills out of self-righteousness and keep your teachings of Jesus who condemns gays, blacks, and others. You deserve to live your life as slaves to the master. LOL

    May 23, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  6. DPGW


    Lol. Whatever.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Huebert

      What is really scary is that some Christians believe that Adam and Eve were real people.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  7. lynne

    I hate how they portrayed citizens of NC. The author flat out said the pastor's rant was "againt the general public view) but then seemed to have included every horrible example of bigotry and ignorance there was to find in the area. Please know, everyone else in America... we are not all horrible.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Wrath of Zeus

      We know there are good people in NC. Band together and show it! Fvck the evil religious nuts.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Patrick

      We know. I'm from Oklahoma and it's much worse here.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • LinCA


      But didn't more than 60% very recently vote to enshrine discrimination in the State constitution?

      May 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Andres Conde

      Only the majority, sadly.

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

      It was a mere 20% that actually bothered to vote in NC...but that is pretty common in every state except during Presidential elections. Very sad that most people in the US allow so few people to make political decisions for them.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Bob

      That was an eloquent attempt at public relations to save face for all of North Carolina, but intelligent minds know that you all went to the polls about two weeks ago and voted to keep your gay citizens planted firmly in second class citizenry. So save your desperate rants of lunacy for someone who doesn't know any better.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  8. bw80209

    the religious right is neither. what happened to "love your neighbor"; "turn the other cheek"? this country is a DEMOCRACY-not a THEOCRACY! if the bible thumbing republican inbred morons want a theocracy, move to the countries in middle east, africa, & the far east that are ruled by religion & have fun! dont forget your burka

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

      Bettter yet build an electified fence...

      May 23, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  9. Ec23

    Ah Christianity... the most successful cult in history.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  10. Jim tom

    Here's why we don't make laws based on the Bible: the Bible says it's a sin to worship any god other than the "true" one. That is quite literally the complete opposite of freedom of religion. The book has no place in law/politics.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Wrath of Zeus

      It has a place...the fire place.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Wrath of Zeus

      Along with the torah, Koran and any other religious mumbo jumbo.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • MJ

      @wrath – it also has a place in toilet tanks. I once used a gideon bible in a super 8 in North Carolina to stop a running toilet. Worked just like a brick!

      May 23, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  11. Upset North Carolinian

    I just saw the video and I'm so disappointed that a so called man of faith uses the pulpit to preach hate. I think he needs to go back, brush off the dust from his bible and read it again. 1 John 4:7-8 says "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love."

    Remember hatred is not of God and everyone will stand before God in the end and give an account for their actions especially pastors of hate. By the way I'm a lesbian and I love the Lord and Jesus didn't die for me to be put in a fence.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  12. Leucadia Bob


    May 23, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Patrick

      I love it! How in the world do you embed vids in your posts???

      May 23, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  13. Ec23

    Ya know, the Germans thought that rounding people up behind fences was a good idea too... they ALSO promised to feed them, but... well.......

    May 23, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • MJ

      And where did the Nazis learn it? From the US Army, imprisoning native americans. it's so rewarding when history comes full circle like this...

      May 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  14. lindaluttrell

    I believe that same bible addresses "tolerance." I KNOW it also states the one verse ignored by most: "Judge not, lest ye be judged." So how is it that most of us do just that? Maybe if we all practiced a little more tolerance, we would not be so quick to judge and ctiricize others. It saddens me that anyone calling themselves a "preacher" could advocate fencing in "undesirables" just as Hitler did...

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

    "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!"

    LMAO! These people are so clueless all I can do is laugh at them! Just because he said he would feed them doesn't mean what he said was taken out of context.

    People will resort to the most illogical arguments when attempting to defend their cult....or discrimination in general!

    May 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  16. KCArrowhead

    I suppose if we lived in a theocracy, Worley's comments and opinions would count. Thankfully, our society is secular. While I am Christian, conservative, and believe that homôsëxuality is a sin, I believe that the LGBT crowd has and should have equal civil rights to my own.

    When preachers such as Worley blur the line between what is moral as a Christian and what is allowable as a US citizen, they give themselves and Christianity a black eye. He may claim that this is not hâte, but it sure has the appearance of it.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  17. J.W

    I am glad I do not hate like everybody else.

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

      And this is how you know those that are of God for the Love of Christ is in them.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  18. Seriously?

    situationalawareness: if you really believe that, then why don't you leave the judging to God and in the meantime TRY and act like a Good Christian...

    May 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  19. John

    So I guess that smoking is ok in their church.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  20. Robert

    Sadly, this is another example of how naive religous leaders brainwash their flock. Aside from the fact that rounding up all gay people is moronic (whether they're fed or not), it won't get rid of them. People are born who they are no matter what anyone says about it being a choice they make later in life. That means you can still have a gay boy or girl from two straight parents. People should just accept this is the way things are and to leave the judging to God.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • QS

      Agreed....with one correction – the pastor is shrewd enough to be so successful at brainwashing his naive flock!

      May 23, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Wrath of Zeus

      Sadly god doesn't exist. 😐

      May 23, 2012 at 3:48 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.