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. Michael Teigen

    Put all so called CHRISTIANS in that North Carolina town behind an electric fence.

    May 23, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  2. Colin

    10 Signs You Are a Fundamentalist Christian.

    1. You honestly believe, despite everything we have been taught by cosmology, astronomy, geology, biology, history, paleontology and archeology, that the World began about 6,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a magic talking snake. You have no evidence to support you, but your unmatched ability to ignore inconvenient facts and bury your head allows you to maintain this silly mythology into the 21st Century.

    2. You think that, despite Jesus getting it wrong, despite St. Paul getting it wrong and despite every single time it was said to be “about to happen” over the last 2,000 years being wrong, the Second Coming is imminent. You fail to see that believing that the “end is nigh” is generally recognized by psychologists as a basic human reaction to one perceiving themselves as a failure in life.

    3. You accept the “leap of faith” as a valid basis for believing in god in the absence of evidence, but fail to see that this makes you a pantheist, because you have to accept that the same leap can be made to any god with equal validity.

    4. You consider simple thoughts like lust and mast.urbation a sin, but have no issue with the disgusting, degenerate way your Bible treats women and $ex and, even today, admire people like Michele Bachmann who consider women second class citizens to men.

    5. You likely deny global warming for no other reason than it makes you uncomfortable and hold science to the impossibly high standard of having to explain every conceivable mystery about the natural World before you will accept it, but some moron rolling around a floor speaking in tongues is enough to convince you he is channeling a spirit.

    6. You will regularly be ripped off and cheated by charismatic “preachers” who are obviously crooks to everybody but you. Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart, Eddie Long, and the other dozen or so who have ripped you off are not enough to convince you that you are a mindless sheep that is regularly being fleeced.

    7. You spout off about the importance of charity and generosity as Biblical principles, but likely support movements like the tea party that promote the evisceration of social policies.

    8. You fail to see that, given your personality, the only reason you are not a fundamentalist Jew, Hindu or Muslim is an accident of where you were born. Had you been born in Iran, you would be one of those bearded half-wits that burns American flags.

    9. You will defend the Bible, an Iron Age collection of Middle Eastern mythology, despite it being indisputably wrong and literally infested with outdated morality, contradictions and barbaric cruelty.

    10. You believe that anybody who does not accept your silly faith will burn in hell. You don’t have to kill, you don’t have to rob, hell, you don’t even have to litter. All you have to do is reject a belief in the Christian god and he will inflict a punishment upon you an infinite times worse than the death penalty….and he loves you. You see no contradiction in using the same sky-fairy as both the carrot and the stick.

    May 23, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • For Realz

      @Colin. Well said! Did you write that or are you quoting someone? Do you have a website or blog? I'd be interested in reading more.

      May 24, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  3. Nicholas

    I have nothing against people proving how stupid they are, I just think they should take the warning labels off everything and let the problem solve itself.

    May 23, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  4. Action Jackson

    I will go unto him as a parched man cometh for water in the desert. I will greet him with a holy kiss and correct him with my straight rod that he may sing of the glory of my enduring might for ever and ever.

    May 23, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  5. John the Historian

    Pastor Worley needs to get a real education. Maybe read some Thomas More or Voltaire or John Locke. His calvinist anti-Christian garbage is way out of date. The Puritans have been discredited. What would Pastor Worley say about Unitarians and the Gay Catholic organizations having Gay couple blessings in a church ? Jesus Christ never denounced Gays so read the bible. I guess this fits in with the Republican and Romney view of Gays being assaulted. Let us pray that the Supreme Court allows Gay marriage soon. With Catholic Spain, Argentina, Belgium, and Portugal allowing Gay marriage and and Prostestant countries like Holland, Sweden, and Norway allowing Gay marriage we have a long way to go in the USA. Hate is not a family value. I wonder why Dan Quayle hasn't said a word ?

    May 23, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  6. Heather_Muslim_convert

    If "cage them behind an electrified fence and air drop food to them until they die out" is his idea of love, I wonder what he'd do to people he hated.

    May 23, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Colin

      Probably send them to Iran, Saudie Arabia, Afghanistan or Yemen, or some other Muslim country.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  7. JLundy

    There's that Christian sense of compassion, not judging others and love your fellow human beings !!!! Hitler put gay folks behind barbed wire too.

    May 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  8. For Realz

    Why don't we put the pastor behind these great big electric fences he envisions and see if god frees him?

    May 23, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  9. dreamer96

    Let's all build an electric fence around the town and just let them dye out...

    May 23, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  10. xzan tennessee

    This is why people hate Christians as much as Muslims they are both hate cults and should be taxed and sued by people that will loose children to this hate filled monster preaching death.

    May 23, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  11. LeeCMH

    That's okay. I hate Christians back as much as they hate me. Christians generate hate, and it reflects back to them.

    May 23, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Real Christian

      I am a Christian, and I don't hate you, quite the opposite.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Real Christian

      That pastor isn't a real Christian, educate yourself....alittle too.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • mema

      I dont hate you either. However do you expect that a Christian put Gods laws second to your human desires?! That they should be joyous that you act on your compultions despite Gods direction. God must come first!

      May 23, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • jungleboo

      Mema, "God must come first!" Are you serious? What clockwork has gone cookoo in your head?

      May 23, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      mema just done fell offa the turnip truck.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Ting

      That pastor isn't a real Christian, educate yourself....alittle too

      And how exactly do you know this? He is a pastor. He has lived most of his life preaching the Bible. He's preaching his interpretation of the Bible. You claim that he won't go to heaven. How did you come to that conclusion? Did God tell you this personally?

      May 23, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • QS

      The pastor is a Christian....at least, the type that most Christians pretend they aren't, but harbor the same feelings inside due to their similar indoctrination!

      May 23, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  12. Robert Hagedorn

    Google First Scandal.

    May 23, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  13. Silly Baggers!

    saying his words had been taken out of context. "He said he would feed them!"


    May 23, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  14. tantalum2000

    Oh this guy makes me laugh. Round them up! They'll die off because they can't reproduce! Hey Sherlock they can't reproduce NOW yet seem to exist! Where are those "evil" gays coming from? Some sort of lesbian and gay conspiracy that they get together against there NATURAL urges and procreate more gay babies? Idiot.

    May 23, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Nicholas

      I guess he will want to ban turkey basters too.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  15. clinky

    Just as amazing as Worley are the village idiots supporting him. "We love the people, hate the sin." Right, you love them so much you'd throw them in a concentration camp.

    May 23, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  16. rob

    Would be a shame if someone burned down that church with that bigot in it.

    May 23, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  17. QS

    "Lay off my pastor!"

    Believe me, there's nothing many of us would like more than to lay this POS off! 🙂

    May 23, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • onlymyopinion

      lol QS

      May 23, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  18. skyle

    Tell the straight people to stop having gay children and then maybe we will "die out."

    May 23, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Nicholas

      That basic bit of biology is lost on the Pastor. Don't try and confuse him with science.
      In another service he yearned for the days when gays would just be hung from a big ole white oak tree to solve the problem.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  19. John

    you need to lay off my pastor is code for leave my boyfriend alone!!!!!

    May 23, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Ting


      May 23, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  20. Dakarai

    Straight people make Gay People, maybe bigots should look in the mirror, when did God ever make a mistake creating us.

    May 23, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • mema

      It has nothing to do with God. We are all sinners and born with imperfections due to our sinfull state. Just because we are born with desires does not mean we should act on them and use it as a crutch. If I had a dollar for every time I have heard" but thats just how I am I cant help it". Gays are no exception to these imperfections.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • J.W

      Why should they have to keep from acting on them?

      May 23, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • clinky

      Mema, You sound like a more reasonable person than the people who hate. Look: What gay and straight people do in bed is private. It's nobody's business but their own. What does someone's private life at home matter to anyone else?

      May 23, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • mema

      They dont have to do anything. Do as they wish but dont say God made them that way. And quit expecting Christians to say it is all fine and dandy. Its not, it is sin. I dont agree on how this pastor handled this but as far a speaking against the sin itself. It is what it is!

      May 23, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Madtown

      Just because we are born with desires does not mean we should act on them
      Your assumption is that their desires are "imperfections". You are not the one to judge this. Their desires are an outcome of the way God designed them. Same as your desires are an outcome of the way God designed you.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • jungleboo

      No, mema, we are not born sinners. We are not evil. We are not the worst that your god created. Lighten up. Life is fun. Why do all these dire predictions tickle your heart so? You have blocked out the very gift of life given to you. "We are all evil" Sheeeez!

      May 23, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      That part of christianity degrades human life more than anything else I've seen. Saying that merely for being born, we deserve to be thrown into everlasting torture. Lovely doctrine.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      mema, how in the world do YOU know whether God made them "that way"? You don't know anything about it. You don't know much about anything, judging from the writing in your posts.

      Suppose the Bible said that s3x between people of the opposite gender was a sin? That you had to simply ignore your own nature and abstain from any s3x with the person you loved? That you could never marry that person because some goober thinks your attraction to and physical intimacy with that person is a "sin"?

      Would YOU obey? Remain celibate your entire LIFE?

      No, you wouldn't.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • jungleboo

      I would venture a guess that our mema is indeed celibate, and does not know the thrill of passion. It is highly recommended by those in the know.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well, someone who can't spell "compulsions" obviously doesn't have any.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:46 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.