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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."

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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."

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"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. WillieLove

    And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:40 am |
  2. WillieLove

    But the LORD is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:39 am |
  3. WillieLove

    Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:38 am |
    • ladybrenwyn

      A question to the community, since I am fairly recent to these boards. Is this type of spam appropriate for hitting the "report abuse" button?

      May 24, 2012 at 2:39 am |
    • WillieLove

      do what you want.....God is watching you

      May 24, 2012 at 2:40 am |
    • ladybrenwyn

      *smile*. For me, that is a good feeling. For others, a threat.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:43 am |
    • Julie

      To answer your question Lady, yes, it is abuse.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:09 am |
  4. WillieLove

    And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:38 am |
  5. WillieLove

    Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:

    May 24, 2012 at 2:37 am |
    • Primewonk

      Yet, your god is too weak too defeat chariots of iron.

      May 24, 2012 at 9:03 am |
  6. WillieLove

    For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:37 am |
  7. WillieLove

    Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:36 am |
  8. WillieLove

    The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:35 am |
  9. WillieLove

    For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:35 am |
  10. WillieLove

    Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:34 am |
  11. WillieLove

    Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:34 am |
  12. WillieLove

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    May 24, 2012 at 2:33 am |
  13. WillieLove

    Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:33 am |
  14. WillieLove

    The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:32 am |
  15. WillieLove

    Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

    May 24, 2012 at 2:29 am |
  16. WillieLove

    But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

    May 24, 2012 at 2:28 am |
  17. WillieLove

    Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:27 am |
  18. WillieLove

    And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:27 am |
  19. WillieLove

    But thou shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the LORD their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:25 am |
    • HawaiiGuest

      I call troll

      May 24, 2012 at 2:26 am |
    • Julie

      Hey mental hospital.... stop letting the troll out!

      May 24, 2012 at 2:34 am |
  20. WillieLove

    And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:25 am |
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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.