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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. Ryan G

    It's funny how he "figured out" how to round up and get rid of gays, when it's the straight people like him that produce us. Oh, neglected to think of that didn't he? Sounds like exactly what Hitler did to the Jews and is a pretty pathetic way to preach. Anyone who follows his rantings is obviously just as delusional. Yet I bet all of these people eat pork, have tattoos, work on Sunday etc. Hypocrites. Bible is pick and choose whatever part suits you for these morons.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  2. Spangler

    Which sin is gluttony? Is he the one they cut off at the all-you-can-eat buffet?

    May 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  3. Cheryl

    So he just keeps shoving people into this pen? Because it's not gay people who are out here having babies that turn out to be gay people. Straight people do that.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Nicholas

      I suppose we could turn it into a big white party if he gave us his old KKK robes which I am sure are still hanging in his closet.

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

      I think there should be a national gay pride parade in the town with this church. It would be funny.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  4. dave3051

    Gandhi said something to the effect of "I like your Christ, but I don't like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." Case in point. Not that all Christians are like this by any means, but there are enough hate-mongers like this guy who use their pulpit to besmirch those who think or act differently to mar the name of Christianity.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  5. anon-i-mouse

    This is exactly why we have and NEED separation of chruch and state. No matter what religion you prefer (if any) there are plenty of crazy people out there that will take it to extremes like this. Keep religion in the churches and in the appropriate charities. Keep it out of my government and my bedroom!

    May 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  6. Ron

    He is a loon an a hypocrite and so are the people who follow him. Explain to me hot you take certain things out of the bible, and other things you completely ignore. The bible says marriage SHOULD be between a man and a woman..where does it say that? And let's say it does..does it not say MAN CANNOT PASS JUDGEMENT ON ANOTHER MAN. Who gave this whack job the right to determine if someone should live or die.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  7. Doc Vestibule

    I've said it before and I'll say it again:
    When the American south was forced to rescind Jim Crow laws and accept racial integration, it was Baptists who most strongly opposed equality.
    Wallie Criswell, an extremely popular and influential Southern Baptist Minister famously said "Let them integrate! Let them sit up there in their dirty shirts and make all their fine speeches. But they are all a bunch of infidels, dying from the neck up."
    Scarcely half a century later, the zeitgeist has shifted so radically that such open racism is considered abhorrent to the very same Christian sect that spouted scripture to justify insti.tutionalized bigotry.
    I fervently hope that the prevailing Baptist condemnation of ho.mose.xuality will soon be viewed with the same sense of shame that the memory of segregation elicits.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Jenny K

      Very well spoken.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • cronewinter

      A big thumbs up..you put it well.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  8. dowdotica

    hillbilly nit wits, closet dwelling hypocrits, no good for nothin dip sh!!!tz. Welcome to the dark ages of AMerica! what a loser... i want to se "him" and his ilk behind an electric fence. better yet? put them all on a slow boat to china...

    May 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  9. Horus

    One guy CNN interviewed through out the old "Adam and Eve, man...Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve"....so if we all are decendents of Adam and Eve then we are all the product of incest; which is also evil in your book. Gotta love those contradictions. Oh right, it was ok for Adam and Eve's kids to engage in incest because that was the OT and doesn't count right?

    May 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Since Eve came from Adam's rib, she would classify as a clone with an alteration to the XX/XY Chromosomal set.
      Is schtipping one's own clone considered incest?
      Of course, the chances of breeding genetically defective children would be much higher than regular incest – but does it technically count???
      What does Jesus say about phukking one's genetic duplicate?

      May 23, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Horus

      Doc, interesting observation however how would you generate an XX/XX from a single XX/XY sample (from the rib)?

      May 23, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Horus
      Why the same way that you create a Ho/mo Sapien from clay.
      "Goddidit".

      May 23, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Horus

      Doc – for some reason it left off the rest of my comment.

      – I was speaking of A & E's children having to procreate to populate which would be incestual...

      May 23, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  10. Eli

    I wonder if the pastor preaches against women wear pants. You know somewhere it says women should not wear mens clothing. Lets not forget the text od women should not shorn or shave their hair(if it just meant women should not shave their heads it would have just said shave not shorn or shave). Now I m sure he could twist around these text and say they mean something else. I was raised my entire life in a true old time religion church that preached the entire Bible not just a few select text. I was also born gay. I would say I probably have more God in my soul than that man has or will ever have.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Sadly there are actually mainstream religions that advocate against women wearing pantsuits. The Jehovah's Witnesses are one. Sure, they can wear jeans or pants at home but if you are at church or knocking on doors you are not allowed to wear pants.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Bill

      Bless you Eli. Keep your head up, spirit strong and your spiritual belief true. You have many people that respect and support you much more that a proclaimed straight Christian that spouts hate and Bible verse selection..

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

      Eli, I am sorry you had to listen to all that garbage as a child. I hope it did not make you feel like there was something wrong with you. I appreciate your post. Have you noticed that the people who spout off hate the way Pastor Worley does are so uneducated that they slaughter the English language? "Im again'it. I'm again'it."

      May 27, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  11. clinky

    I was figuring the article would report that townspeople quietly opposed Worley's rant, but sadly, no. Instead, we've got one guy saying gays are "wrong" according to the Bible and for punishment deserve to be rounded up, and some other people pointing out the pastor did not, after all, mean to starve them to death, just cage them forever.

    I think Worley is actually helpful because his fascist raving throws into relief the Final Solution conservatives are committed to enacting for the "gay problem." Since conservatives see gays and lesbians as sick and contaminating society, they must believe that they should be removed. They all know that praying away the gay doesn't really work, so they will take a more drastic step to get rid of them.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  12. James

    Wow. this preacher is stupid. Genocide? Not very God-like. Hilter Preacher needs to read about the gay gene before throwing his straight stones.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Jon

      Yeah because Christians believe in genes lol. If they don't believe in genetic evolution what makes you think they'll believe anything about a gay gene?

      May 23, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  13. Robert from Canada

    If the GOP were insulted by Rev. Wright in Chicago Democrats should be equally insulted by this minister. Whatever happened to the phrases love thy neighbour like yourself, judge not lest ye be judged also, or all the other guidelines Jesus left us with? And you wonder why the right has a problem when comics/shows make fun of them.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • purnellmeagrejr

      WHAT DO dEMCORATS HAVE TO DO WITH THIS GUY; HE SHOULD BE REPUGNANT TO ALL..

      May 23, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  14. Keven

    Isnt that the same thing that hitler wanted to be done to the jews? Does anyone else not see this? Im surprised there hasnt been more comparisons to Hitler with what some of these people are saying about other PEOPLE! Hitler felt that the Jews were filthy animals and beneath him, kind of like what is being said by these so called religious leaders. I feel its time that something should be done about this before it turns into something worse.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • anon-i-mouse

      Hitler not only did this to Jews, but to gays and other groups as well.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  15. JoHnnyBoy

    I really do consider being a priest someday. This kind of stuff kind of makes me rethink it. This guy is clearly a loon!!

    May 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • cronewinter

      Seems that if you truly want to serve your god you should run as fast as you can from organized religion and head for the hills and mountains. That is where god left the love letter to us, not in a moldy old book written by hurtful, mean spirited old men in an uneducated and non-technical society. If god truly hates us all as much as the bible says he does he is a very abusive father.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • jungleboo

      Don't do it! The churches are crumbling from within, as we see from the kind of leadership they are promoting. That guy, surrounded by ferns and flowers and faux gothic thrones, is a whack job. If you join people like that, you would have to deal with them and their odd personalities. Find another meaningful career, and do good works as a volunteer. That will satisfy your need to help others. Do not become a minister/priest/rabbi/holy man. Mostly posers, or people who have gotten Supremely Stuck.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  16. Saxo Grammaticus

    This preacher is obviously terrified that he himself is gay, and he can't accept it.. It's a hard way live, not being all right with yourself. Add to that the fact he's not the sharpest knife in the drawer and you have a recipe for spewing hatred all over the place.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  17. David M

    “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.”

    Whether you are religious or not, I think all of us can agree with this pastor, who actually appears to have it spot on right.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Nicholas

      Exactly. Real Christians need to stand up to pastors like this as well as Tony Perkins and his ilk and take back their faith. Let everyone know that these haters do not speak for them let alone for God.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  18. jay

    2 straight days of air time, nice work CNN. I wonder if Jeremiah wright got this kind of attention?

    May 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • David M

      Exactly. Yet there are thousands of youg people doing really good things all over the world and they can't get 5 seconds air time. I guess the fact that they are helping those who really need help is not sensational enough.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Literal

      Jay, in 2008, I remember MONTHS of Rev. Wright coverage. Where were you?

      May 23, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • DCTA

      I think he got a lot more – like weeks of it! And actually just recently it's back – four years later.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • cronewinter

      Yeah, he did and still is.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • J.W

      Are you kidding? Jeremiah Wright got months of air time back in 2008. He is no longer relevant.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  19. Pollywog22

    I'm not religious at all but what ever happened to love thy neighbor? Maybe that's why I'm not religious anymore – too much hypocracy.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • David M

      It still applies. Too bad this "pastor" does not get it.

      May 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  20. David M

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

    Oh well, I guess that makes it okay, if you're going to feed them. There for a minute I didn't think you liked them.

    Idiot.

    May 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Tuscanny

      The lady that said that is NOT a church member and if they would have played the whole interview she was trying to get the point across that people were saying that he wanted to electricute them and starve them...she was trying to show how things are being said that wasn't said...she also said she didn't agree with what he said...I think all you people leaving all these hateful comments are just as bad as the preacher...you should forgive and ask forgiveness.

      May 23, 2012 at 6:30 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.