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.

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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. FLIndependent

    How about we take all the hate preachers out there and put them inside a fence? The world would be a much happier place without these hate mongers. They are the problem, not the solution and I might add it is these sorts that are dividing our country, not our President.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  2. Colin

    Mixed Reaction:

    Those who oppose him: He said something stupid and he is a simple fundamentalist who doesn't know any better.

    Those who support him: He said something stupid and he is a simple fundamentalist who doesn't know any better.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  3. Snow

    "He said he will feed them".. Well, that makes everything ok.. isnt it? after all, even the nazis fed people in concentration camps..

    ignorant fundidiots like this bring a once great nation down to its knees and even dumber sheep cheer them for that!

    May 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  4. Bill

    After serving in the military and seeing the Islamic zelots these Christian zelots scare the hell out of me. No place for any of this in a free country.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm |

    Gee..I hope "Separation of Church and State" is still in place?

    May 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • TR6

      So far, so good; but remember vigilance is the price of freedom

      May 23, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest


      Unfortunately there has been a slip in the first amendment when the motto was changed and "in god we trust" was put on the money in 1956.

      May 23, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  6. me again

    This pastor, his flock, and others just like them keep Jerry & Maury in business.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  7. raul

    you may disagree with a lifestyle but saying they should be rounded up or farmed out till they die is plain wrong.. i dont hear gay people saying str8 people should be kept in cages.

    those who you abuse today are the ones that lead you tomorrow.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • WOW

      Really??? REALLY??? you don't see hate comments directed toward Christians... you need to go look through all the comments and you will find MANY!! You need to live in the REAL world.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Patrick

      @WOW – Please post any source that says straight people or Christians should be kept behind an electric fence.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Colin

      Well, WOW, when your entire social outlook is based on 2,000 year old mythology from the other side of the World, ya sorta bring it on yourself........

      May 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Snow

      @wow.. Lol.. its like how you make excuses about hating the sin but not the sinners.. Reasonable logically thinking people do not hate christians.. they only hate the delusions christians shove on to others..

      May 23, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • WOW

      @ Patrick: Here is one example. You may not agree that the pastor is a Christian but that is not for you to say but you wanted and example well HERE YA GO:


      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 | Report abuse | Reply

      SOOO... it may not say electric fence but still the same... the comments are MANY against the Christian belief. You have been posting long enough to know I am telling the truth, if you will admit it.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • CharlieAdamsInKentucky

      He can't because he knows there isn't any such thing. Just more of the "poor, persecute Christian" mindset. As for the big, tough, *anonymous* church member, how about this: when your pastor "lays off" of other people, maybe other people will "lay off" of him. Until then, he opened his ignorant, hateful mouth in public, he's fair game.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • WOW

      @snow: Hate will never go away as gays will not.

      @charlie: In your face MORON! You have not read the other comments either. If you are a big boy why don't you post your contact information here in a comment. YEP RiGHT... YOU WON'T because you just want to cry. Cry baby.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  8. bbrooker88

    The pastor's comments are so ridiculous, so over the top I just figured it was somebody wanting a little attention. But then the townfolk pretty much backed him up! No doubt these people are no better than the Taliban.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • SuFiSm iS dIfFeReNt

      small town fear, seen it as soon as they cable it will be over.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  9. BoycottNCforJesus

    The solution is simple. Stop doping business with NC. Close your bank accounts at Bank of America, BBT and Wells Fargo, which are all headquartered in Charlotte, NC. Cancel your Outer Banks vacation.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • jungleboo

      Expand the list please, everyone? I think Jerry's Artr-a-rama, a mail order art supply company is down there. Correct me if I am wrong. And if it is not a good plan of action, please illuminate.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Frank

      That's right...hurt the 99.99% in NC who are not foaming at the mouth Christian Taliban Nazi nutbags.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Yeah, I'll stop paying my mortgage with BoA and cancel my beach house in Outer Banks. I'll get right on that.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • jungleboo

      99% not foaming at the mouth nut bags? Did your state not just pass a law that would deny me my rights as an American citizen? As they take steps backward from the Light, why should I share any of my income with them? Economic power convinces people to clean up their act, and is more to the point than disapproving looks and damnations to hell.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  10. Frank

    His call for people to vote against Obama has turned his church into a Political Action Commitee (PAC) so his tax exmpt status should be immediately pulled.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  11. Jerial

    Yes the pastor is an idiot. I am just not quite sure what the people who look to him as a moral compass are?
    Maybe it's just another case of dumb and dumber

    May 23, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Real Christian

      Absolutely! Doesn't anyone else see Jerial's comment to be on point! These parishoners are following a pastor who is very misled.......he is NOT leading from a pure heart and certainly not speaking from a loving Christian perspective.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  12. joe

    What is it about Baptists? I thought the Westboro Baptist church was bad enough, but this guy comes close to being their equal in terms of hateful stupidity. Just what is in that water they insist on dunking people in?

    May 23, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  13. jungleboo

    Pastor and his pack of wolves.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  14. BADGUY

    Pastor Worley is the reason I don't eat a lot of catfish and "hush puppies". I LOVE the stuff but strange things happen if you eat too much.

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

      Just make sure you only use ketchup and hot sauce. I knew a guy who started using tarter sauce and next thing I knew he was one of them quarrrrs.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  15. Lance

    “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.”

    Careful there, Bubba... That kind of crap runs both ways (see: clergy using the pulpit to urge voting FOR Obama).

    May 23, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • D

      Don't be careful about it. Stop it, regardless of who they're shilling for or against.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • BADGUY

      Lance – What church is asking people to vote for Obama. Never heard of any..but even if there were...asking a church attendee to vote for a specific candidate violates IRS rules. I would hope the IRS will be visiting with Pastor Worley soon?

      May 23, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • xeno

      Thing is, people pushing for this church to lose tax exempt status would do the same whoever the pastor was for or against. It's about separation of church and state.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Paula

      Discrimination and intolerence will not ever go away completely, because this is part of the nature of mankind. But, religion has been the leader and central figure in the murder, killing, imprisonment, public humiliation, discrimination, inslavement, deprevation, punishment, haterd, negative opinion and excommunication of millions of human beings for not following a particular religion without pause and reflection. Though there have been thousands of religions on this Earth, since the dawn of civilization, each religion sees itself and the only one true way to God and eternal life. The conflicts between religions, arising from the differences in the control of doctrine, phylosophy, practice, and traditions, have consistenly overshadowed their basic purpose, to love their God and one another. Mankinds need to control others is never more evident than in religion.


      May 23, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  16. Lisa B.

    I blame straight people for making gay people (literally).

    May 23, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  17. Denise

    My husband is always telling me there are people out there like this and I am always dumbfounded when they speak and actually believe what they say.
    FYI: The FBI can not do anything about this pastor because he is not calling for their killing specifically, nor is he threatening the President directly (simply encouraging his congregation not vote for him), so he is covered under the Freedom of Speech.
    Unfortunately, he is covered by ignorance and hatred as well.
    This is one of the most ludicrous items I have read in my life. I am simply mystified that someone in 2012 can be this clueless and cruel.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Patrick

      Well said.

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

      Denise,so what you're basically saying is because he's a CHRISTIAN Minister,he gets a Pass.Had a Muslim Cleric Here in the U.S.said the exact same things,He'd be well on His way to Gitmo now,The Mosque seized&all it's members tapped by The CIA.But because He's a White,Christian who is FROM the US&even more telling the South,he gets to pass it off as Free Speech.HOGWASH.I live up the road from these fools(NOT by choice)&I assure you,they are more than ready to go&Lynch Gays as well as Minorities.Worley also said Gays should"Hang High from an Old White Oak Tree"&now we have The KKK coming in to do a Cross Burning on Saturday in support of Him.Losing his tax-Exempt should be the LEAST that happens to him or anyone else like him.By his actions,he's now put this WHOLE Community in Danger.The Principle of Yelling FIRE in a crowded Theater applies here.We WILL stil have OUR Protest against Him&this kind of Bigotry on Sunday,we're just hoping not to have The National Guard&a repeat of Watts..

      May 23, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • jrod

      Nothing was said about the FBI. They were talking about the IRS. As a church, they get tax breaks but using the pulpit for political reasons can quickly get that tax status taken away....as it should!

      May 23, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Real Christian


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

      Religion is getting closer and closer to having their tax exempt status revoked, for delving to far into politics. Either your a church, or you are an organized political action committee, you can't be both.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  18. jjp

    All the while the "churches" that advocate beheading infidels remain unscathed by your intolerence of those who believe differently than you

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

      What are you talking about? Are Mus1im churches in the US posting sermons on YouTube that talk about beheading infi dels? Did I miss that one???

      May 23, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Patrick

      Post a link and believe me I'll get equally outraged about it.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  19. raul

    now that gays are in the military id be a bit more cautious they could fence that town up and light it up.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • D

      newsflash: gays have been in the military since the beginning of this country. it's just that they're allowed to be honest about it now.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  20. QS

    Seriously, at what point do we stop coddling religion with special rights to discriminate and start calling their "beliefs" and "sermons" what they are...hate speech?

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

      That is an excellent point. Perhaps he can be prosecuted by gay rights groups for a hate crime. I could back that move.

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

      Good Idea! But I'd be happy if they'd just start paying income tax, like the rest of us heathens, rather than building mansions and buying "his" and "her's" corporate jets...OR...sending it all off to Rome to buy more of those "cute" little red shoes and hats!

      May 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • NorCalMojo

      That's pretty funny. Crazy yokel.

      "I'm agin' it, the bibles agin' it, and God's agin' it"


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

      I just wondering why it is such a big deal. Its not really hate speech. It lacks tollerance and is distastefull but it does not incite violence. The truth is 100% of the population discriminates at some point or another. No matter how good of intentions we have or unbiased we think we are. This happens everyday everywhere and it will never stop no matter what laws you make or change. Let people say what they will and it will come back to them. A sort of karma as it were. In a perfect world there would be no disrimination however this is no perfect world.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:50 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.