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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. The Dude

    no shocker that this bigot town supports this jerk. I lived in that horrible state and will never return. It is people like these idiots that reaffirm my being an atheist! I think we should build an electric fence for them! They are awful awful people! Haters, all of them, except those that did not vote for that stupid amendment! Get out of that state as soon as possible!!!

    May 23, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  2. wabob62

    I would love to know what has religion done to make the worid a better place, I remember once joining a church and I was told I wouldn't get to heaven by their evangelicals that I wasn't born again enough all he did was rattle on some jibberish and that day I was done with all orgainzed religion. They are so afraid that gay people are going to invade their church and spray them with gay dust. Did GOD ask the religious to kill in his name if so when? Thats the problem they kill in his name and make the world a bad place, and make it bad for peolple of faith who do good things. Most of thses radicals only want one thing control they get that and they get it all.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • TheGrimJester

      Personally I detest religion, but it has made the world better in many different ways. Look at all the hospitals that are Catholic funded. Look at third world countries, many of those have volunteers in the thousands helping in any way possible due to religion funding and religion missionaries. One organization cannot be summed up by just its bad acts, or just by it is good acts. There is more to it than that.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Shelly

      Americans have had 10 years to take a good long look at Isam and you would think that with all of the evil we have seen that we might want to look in the mirror a couple of times a day and ask ourselves some questions about our own belief system. Religion is a stranglehold on the entire planet. Few Middle Eastern or African states will ever move another step forward when they keep running 20 miles back.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  3. Nurse143

    If we used the Pastor's thinking, one might expect that maybe they'll just put up a fence around their property and we can send food into them till they die off – unless they're breeding...

    May 23, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  4. ME II

    The pastor's an idiot, but...

    Who is the fricking reporter?

    "Either, he hasn't got the guts..."
    How is that reporting?

    "They scattered so fast that they left a ....."
    Of course, they did because the reporter was not reporting, he was arguing and trespassing.

    I have little compassion for these people, but what happened to journalism??

    May 23, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • ME II

      Oh, CNN must be hiring from the Belief Blog commenters. That must be it.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Damian

      Remind me to never take you to a fight. Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire, but really, there is no way you can compare concentration camps to his line of questioning. You have a bias. Face it. Get therapy.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • ME II

      Get therapy? Really?

      Yes, I have a bias against bad reporting. I'm in no way agreeing with these back woods ignorant believer's, but the reporting ruins the credibility of the story in showing just how idiotic these people really are.

      And you aren't helping! Make another appointment with your own therapist, it seems twice a week isn't working.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  5. FormerMarineSgt

    In this day and age, it continues to surprise me that there are people out there that are so bigoted, so hate filled that they can even create ideas like that in thier own heads, let alone desire to articulate them to the public.

    Yes, you can believe that gay is wrong. To give you that right to freedom of belief allows me to beleive that gay is just as right as straights.

    HOWEVER – Having the right to believe that something is either right or wrong DOES NOT give either of us the right to treat ANY segment of the population as lesser human beings, as non-human, as evil or wrong simply because they don't believe the same thing you do – or the same thing that I do.

    You can say 'hate the sin, love the sinner', but when you sound even remotely like this preacher – you aren't simply hating the sin, you are blatantly hating the sinner AND violating many of God's laws and many of the teachings of Jesus. This preacher needs to go sit and study the Bible and then learn from others what God and Jesus really want vs. what HIS own biases and bigotries allow him to interpret the Bible to be.

    I am straight and Christian – yet you will NEVER hear me say a bad word about gays. Why? Simple – God AND Jesus taught us to treat others as we would have them treat us. Demonizing them means that you are wanting them to demonize YOU.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  6. WOW

    Here is a question for someone to try and answer:

    Tell us what the % of the U.S. population is Gay? and also tell me how what you think the % of the population will be in 10 years, 20 years and 30 years. Yes I know you have know way of knowing but why don't you give it a shot.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • me again

      My prayer for you is a gay offspring of your very own.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • joe

      There is a simple way of knowing this. Look it up. It's been studied for decades. There is always a predictable portion of the population that is gay, about ten to thirteen percent. Always has been and always will be. That's the way God wants it, apparently. Does that answer your question?

      May 23, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • sam

      Boring.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • ME II

      "An estimated 3.5% of adults in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, or bise.xual and
      an estimated 0.3% of adults are transgender." "...approximately 9 million LGBT Americans..."
      (http://williamsinst%5BREMOVE%5Ditute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Gates-How-Many-People-LGBT-Apr-2011.pdf)

      what's your point?

      May 23, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • ME II

      @joe,
      !10-13% may be... 3.5% may "identify as" ?

      May 23, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • J.W

      The percentage of people who are probably always has been the same. It is just the people who are open about it is rising.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • ME II

      I'm guessing that there is at least some correlation to population density, but I'm speculating, obviously.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  7. fred

    People are a product of many things. Even Jesus said “some are born this way, some are made this way by men and others have renounced marriage (or choose to remain celibate) because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it”. In short we have little choice in how we were born and often little choice in the cultural influences or people that influence us. However, we can choose to dedicate our lives to Christ. Pastor Worley should take note that “The one who can accept this should” means it is not the Pastors decision or place to force anyone into a particular lifestyle.
    God does not force us or put us in cages so we cannot sin or cause others to sin. We are here by the grace of God to demonstrate through our lives where we really belong. Some belong with Christ and look forward to that promise land of eternity with God. Others do not belong in an eternal relationship with God and really do not want to be like Christ. Our very lives reflect who we are and where we really belong.
    It is a choice and it is ours to make.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Jesus

      Fred, just so you know I was actually correcting the Apostles that were thinking they should not get married after I stated Gods position on divorce is not the way but, allowed by Moses. Everything you said is correct on general truths but, not from the verse your cite which addresses marriage not what a Pastor can or cannot do.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Kim

      @Jesus
      It would have been better had you made the bible a little clear.
      Humm........make that a lot more clear !

      May 23, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Jesus

      Kim, I was there when we put the tree in the middle of Garden. It is a simple story that even a child can understand. If you cannot read you need only look up at the heavens in awe and you will know that you are here for a purpose. Seek your purpose onto heaven and it will all fall into place. Seek your purpose onto self and you will see what drew Eve towards that tree. I could give you a big personal warning or show you why life appears to have evolved but, I already know that would not change your soul. So keep seeking but, try a new direction as your current one leads only to darkness.
      Given that I am known for my love I will give you a hint. Your scientists think very highly of themselves yet even with evolution they begin with a prokaryote (Greek for before kernel ) then eukaryotes or true kernel. So, in the beginning was the word and the word was with God. If you are so inclined read the Parable of the Sower in Luke then the Parables of the Mustard Seed. There is kernel in there should you want to find it.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • TR6

      @Jesus: ”Kim, I was there when we put the tree in the middle of Garden.”

      So basically you would leave a 2 year old alone with a pack of razor blades and then punish him for bleeding on the carpet?

      May 24, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  8. Robert Brown

    Watch out for false prophets! They dress up like sheep, but inside they are wolves who have come to attack you. You can tell what they are by what they do.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  9. Johnny Orlando

    "They can't reproduce.".....The man has a good point. Gotta take the weeds out of the yard in order to let the grass grow better.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • D

      LOL, and where did the "weeds" come from in the first place? hmm, let's think about that for a minute, shall we?

      May 23, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Forrest

      There's stupid and then there's really stupid. Where do you think you fall?

      May 23, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Real Christian

      Your right about the weeds, but the pastor is the weed.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  10. Tim

    In a country with a "Seperation" of church and state alot of our politics are relgious based. There is a reason the creators of our nation set out to seperate it. This pastors words bring that issue into heart. For it was people like him who called slavery correct. People like him who said woman should not vote. People like him who was against inter racial marriages. I wonder what our next generation will think when the look back at this time, as we look back now at all other times we have opressed the minority. Every relgion has the right to belive what the will, but have not the right to push those ideals onto others. This is why gay marriage wille eventualy become the law of the land. It may take a long time, but eventualy any consituational admindments will be removed in shame that they were ever passed and our future children will look back with disgust of why we did them

    May 23, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  11. Drumcode

    God is fake. Get over it.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  12. kaligaclark

    Another church that should lose their tax exempt status!

    May 23, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • davetharave

      Maybe they should lose their church status as well.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  13. drummergirl

    If gays can't reproduce, then where do they all come from? That's right: Straight people! So, really if he wants all the gays to die out, he would need to put the straight people that have gay babies in that fence, right? Doesn't that make more sense?

    May 23, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • WOW

      @girl: Tell us what the % of the U.S. population is Gay? and also tell me how what you think the % of the population will be in 10 years, 20 years and 30 years. Yes I know you have know way of knowing but why don't you give it a shot.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Real Christian

      LOL! Thats a great comment. God loves all His kids. This pastor is whacked.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • drummergirl

      I was being sarcastic, obviously... PS. I am a lesbian.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Rick

      @WOW, So it's not the "graying" of America, but the "gaying" of America? lol

      May 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Real Christian

      Well, I belong to a church, straight. I believe in God. I believe He loves you and I equally. Whether you believe in Him or not is your choice, but I would never make you feel unwelcome at my church or my home. Still love your comment.....best one here.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  14. mlynjs

    This is the reason that folk are leaving the church.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Real Christian

      Valid point, this pastor makes the un-churched world see people see all church goers and "believers" as haters....and narrow minded. Its not true, we aren't all that way.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  15. liz

    But the pork and shellfish eaters in North Carolina get a free ride

    May 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  16. Voice of Reason

    There's going to be a lot of beer drinking and rowdiness there this weekend!

    May 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  17. Keven

    the fact that he said he went to congress with this and wasnt arressted is shocking to me also

    May 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  18. davetharave

    "TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT ?!?" Ha Ha Ha, all that tells me is that some people don't understand the meaning of 'context' ! This expression is used to excuse all kinds of misspoken tirades, but never has it been used so sadly to try and explain away the rantings of this pastor. The fact that there were people in the gallery saying 'Amen' at certain peaks of his speech is almost as distressing as the rant itself. Some parts of this country are very scary places.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • yankeenot

      Yes, but most parts are the scary areas.Up North is normal...NOT!!!

      May 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  19. yankeenot

    I love that pastor, LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe they can reproduce like on Jurrasic Park!

    May 23, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • D

      LOL, where do you think the come from now, anyway?

      May 23, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  20. sqeptiq

    "He said he would feed them!" some church members told CNN, referring to the Worley’s idea for rounding up gays.

    Sounds kind of like a certain" leader" in 1930s Europe. Lotsa people died to take HIM out.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • ME II

      Yes, the Nazi comparison has been made already.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • xeno

      And the Nazi comparison should continue to be made. It is people not doing something about this hate speech early, people allowing themselves and others to be persuaded by it, that cost the lives of many.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • MrApplesauce

      Yes, ME II, it has been mentioned already, so lets forget about it and call what this pastor said "no big deal".

      May 23, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Frank

      Yes, he said he would at least feed them so I don't know why everyone's getting their panties in a wad. Sounds like this man of God is a real True Christian®.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • ME II

      @Mr Applesause,
      Wow, how many times do you need to hear an obvious comparison to Hitler and Nazis, to know that this preacher is an idiot?

      May 23, 2012 at 4:49 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.