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. G. Markus

    Please CNN can you connect with this Pastor? I am jubilating for joy right now in Jos-Nigeria, jumping, leaping and shouting for joy. Pastor Charles Worley has made my day today and giving me a brighter light with HIS STAND.
    Please before condemning Pastor Charles please pick your Bible and read Gen. 19!
    Please Pastor Charles fire on! The world and America needs people like you. Don't mind the sell out reverends who are serving Satan's wish. You have exactly as it is in the Gospel of JESUS. "REPENT OR PERISH"! Jesus was fond of saying.
    And please CNN I beg you, please move this story to the International edition, please! THANKS SO MUCH FOR CARRYING THE STORY. GOD BLESS YOU(and the Lord's people say, AMEN!)- Pastor Kilyobas G. Markus- Jos-Nigeria

    May 24, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      So not only do we get Nigerian prince letters trying to defraud us, we have exported our craziest religious zealotry where murder and violence in the name of whichever God they put on their banner is not only accepted but praised. This pastor, you, and all those who support organized religion have the blood of the innocents on your hands which will not wash off just by trying to murder the witnesses. You are Babylon the Great and your days are numbered.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:02 pm |

    I am a christian and God loves everyone. He just hates the sins that we all do. Gays sins are no greater than mines, we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. That pastor has hate in him for gay men and women. Who without sin cast the first stone. He will be held accountable by God for what he said. I wonder how many in his flock has fornicated or committed adultry not to say if they are liars or any thieves among themselves. Can I get a witness

    May 24, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • JRA


      May 24, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Primewonk

      If your version of a god loves gay people, why does he command that you kill them?

      May 24, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  3. Nii

    Most Atheists were religious Xtians rather than spiritual Xtians once. It means they aare still at that level of spirituality! Being spiritual has nothing to do with religion though religion may help you to attain spirituality. Learn to love your neighbor as yourself!

    May 24, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • mandarax

      You don't know that. How would you know that? How would you know how strangers used to feel, what they thought, or how they come to conclusions? Who are you to judge who is just religious and who is "truly spiritual?" People give up on religious faith for a wide range of reasons and take a variety of paths to get there.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Shintoism and Buddhism are form of spirituality – and yet most Christians are pretty sure those are the WRONG kinds of spirituality becuase they don't follow the Judeo-Christian religious dogmas.
      No matter how "enlightnened", Buddhists are still going to burn in hell for all eternity becuase they don't give the God of Abraham their obsequious submission as He demands.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      "How would you know how strangers used to feel, what they thought, or how they come to conclusions?"

      Nii is using the old "How do I think they must think" method where he examines his own level of spirituallity which he feels must be superior to anyone elses and is "real" and measures it against his impression of others based upon reading random comments on "the internets". Duh...

      May 24, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  4. sam

    I swear Clayton Bigsby was in there somewhere

    May 24, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  5. maildomination

    The guy in that video sets off my gaydar. IJS.

    May 24, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • closet atheist

      100% agreed.... he SCREAMS closet gay...

      I'd bet my lunch money he's got man-flesh fantasies.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  6. DarthVader

    Pathetic how so many posters here are saying a fence should be built around these people and bla bla. So it's outrageous for them to disagree with a lifestyle and make stupid comments about it, but it's acceptable for you to disagree with their opinion and make stupid comments about it. Most of you are no better than they are.

    May 24, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • DCInt

      Although the big difference here is that people on the thread are being sarcastic...the people in the filthy south are dead serious.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      We build fences around people who threaten law abiding citizens with violence and act upon it all the time, it's called prison. This pastor is inciting his fellowship to violence, for there would be no other way to round up all the gays and lock them up other than physically attacking them. He should tell his flock that acting upon his words might very well get them incarcerated instead. But don't worry, we will feed them...

      May 24, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • closet atheist

      Does our intolerance of bigots in NC = their intolerance and hatred of gays?

      May 24, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • DarthVader

      Really people? You actually feel threatened by them? Do you honestly think that in the 21st century anybody will build a prison for gay people..and let them die in it? Look, let them have their opinion. I don't see how this pastor making those idiotic comments affects any of you. Everyone knows that sooner than later, gay marriage will be the law of the land, even if I or many others don't agree with it. And please don't say I'm full of hatred and intolerance. Some of you really do need to "lay off" a bit...and you know it.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Billy, Hill

      Look up sarcasm in the dictionary dumass.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • DarthVader

      Way to go Billy. Just one thing, if this is sarcasm, can we say the pastor might've been using sarcasm in his sermon as well? Also, don't see the need for name calling.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      "Do you honestly think that in the 21st century anybody will build a prison for gay people..and let them die in it? "

      No, but I do think that a less than educated parishioner might listen to this pastors dehumanizing speech and take the biblical "law" into their own hands. Scott Roeder anyone? This pastor is advocating violence against other American citizens, it's just that simple.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  7. DCInt

    We should build an electrified fence around all the gun toting Christians...MAD MAX 2012!

    May 24, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • DCInt

      Mel Gibson wins

      May 24, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  8. closet atheist

    I can't wait for the day this guy gets arrested offering bj's to strangers at a rest stop along Interstate 77....

    May 24, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  9. Sy2502

    We should build a fence around Maiden, NC, and let the people inbreed until they all die off.

    May 24, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Are you so sure that is not already happening? Could explain a lot.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • J.W

      Did anyone like my idea of having a gay pride celebration there?

      May 24, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • preacherman

      Ahm agin it!

      May 24, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • DarthVader

      You're no different than they are then.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      "We should build a fence around Maiden, NC, and let the people inbreed until they all die off."

      That should read "They already built an invisible fence blocking logic, reason and compassion around Maiden, NC, and the people are inbreeding stupid until they will eventually all die off."

      May 24, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • TeeMac

      Hmmmm ...if we rounded up all the straights and corral them, wouldn't they die out to? I'm thinking that Pastor Worley's feeling, that putting all the gay's in one place would make gayness extinct. it would have to be an eternity concentration camp....BUT...I got to thinking...a 5 year plan! Let's get every LGTB to move to one state ( I prefer SoCal cuz of the weather) let's say from Santa Barbara south......I think it would solve the "gay problem" and it would drastically improve the California economy overnight!! I can dream, can't I?

      May 24, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      "solve the "gay problem"

      This is the problem, that people think of gays as a problem. This is like saying "How are we going to solve the left handed problem because we all know Jesus was right handed, and leftys are from the Devil."

      There is no "gay problem" only a lot of bigoted people who have a problem accepting gays as equal.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Mass Debater wrote, "There is no "gay problem" only a lot of bigoted people who have a problem accepting gays as equals."

      Mass Debater just won the internets with this statement.

      I don't know if you are gay or straight, male or female – it really doesn't matter – I just want to say, that as a straight man, I just got a little man-crush on you.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  10. murphius1118

    This pastor continues to prove that religion is a form of mental illness....

    May 24, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Whatever

      ...I wouldn't go that far. I have many Christian friends that go to church regularly and do all sorts of good stuff in our community. I asked them about this guy and they were as disgusted as you and I.

      Religion has merit, but only from an educated person not blinded by the pulpit.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      "Religion has merit..." ?

      May 24, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Whatever

      @Voice...insomuch as there are those that need that in their lives. There's nothing wrong with people being involved with something if it makes them happy. I have issues when they project their ridiculousness.

      For me though, most churches (read religion) is harmless. They do for the community in the same way a homeless shelter or food bank does.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • closet atheist

      @ Whatever

      Do you think churches deserve tax-ememption..??

      May 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Voice of Reason


      I respect your opinion but I totally disagree. Religion is a perpetuation of the supernatural, something that cannot be proven and it has a lot of unreasonable baggage associated with it. If we have presidents and senators and teachers that are religious there is always going to be an underlying agenda that relate to their "belief". You cannot escape it if you have it at the core of your foundation.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      "This pastor continues to prove that religion is a form of mental illness...."

      You are absolutely spot on! Delusion is a mental disorder. Anyone who believes there is a god watching them and talking to them, well?

      May 24, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • JRA

      1 Corinthians 1:18
      "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

      May 24, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      @whatever – "I have many Christian friends that go to church regularly and do all sorts of good stuff in our community."

      Do you not have any non-Christian friends that do "good stuff" in your community? If not, is it that you don't have non-Christian friends or do you not think any of them are doing good? What part of doing "good stuff" for your community requires participation in a religion?

      May 24, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Whatever

      @Voice...point taken. I certainly share your concerns over decisions being made based on someone's belief system. Call me idealistic, but I hope the people in power are making decisions based on facts rather than feelings.

      @Mass Debater...check the posts...I'm not advocating that only religious do good stuff...I'm pointing out that those religious people I know are not shoving anything down anyone's throat. They are respectful and do good things. That's all. Of course I have many non-Christian friends who do good as well.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • TK

      I believe that religion is the glue that binds us all together....it's like sealant in the facade of a building... when the seals are missing or failing we let in the waters of sin and unrighteousness...

      May 24, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And I believe you're an idiot who needs to look for some ridiculous explanation for the unknown and a reason to condemn those who are different from you. Thus, your need for religion.

      May 24, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  11. Mike

    Who gives a rats butt crap. I'm so sick and tired of these so-called mouth pieces of God, making & getting their 15-minutes of fame by shooting off at the mouth, and forcing "their" religious ideals down everyone else's throats. Why does the press even give them the time of day? Jesus, if people need other people to make their life-decisions for them, and tell what, how, etc., they are to believe in, then we live in a pretty sorry-assed country where there is no "self-thinkers" allowed. How sad is that? This so-called preacher is nothing more than some "home-spun" self-made mouthpiece of God and nothing more. Their followers??? Exactly that-FOLLOWERS. People who can't think for themselves. Hmmm. Pretty much goes for the press who broke this story. A country who's people have more faith in mouthpieces than themselves. Scary.

    May 24, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Whatever

      Scary...but reality.

      Truth is Mike, I'm not anti-God...I've got some big time issues with His "followers" though.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  12. Lenny Pincus

    Lay off my pastor. That's a good one.

    May 24, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  13. Robyn

    It really is frightening to see people like the "Lay off my pastor" guy, who clearly are willing to imprison, rob, torture, and murder hundreds of millions of people they know NOTHING about, except that they are 'different' in some way. It doesn't really seem to matter how they are different or why or how minor the difference is.

    People like this lost person are willing soldiers ready to slaughter people who have never had an unkind word or deed for them, at the words of one hate filled preacher who tells people he is the channel to God.

    Religion feeds and focuses and uses this kind of ignorant fear and hate frenzy to gain power and money for itself.
    This really is the survival issue for our future. We are going to have to give up luxury of ignorance or it will kill us all.

    May 24, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • closet atheist

      Well said, Robyn....

      May 24, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • jungleboo

      Yes. The luxury of ignorance.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  14. serdich

    The bible is also called Cafeteria Christianica...

    May 24, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  15. serdich

    ..and these are the American voters..now wonder we are so screwed up..

    May 24, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  16. Art

    Someone had a bad experience.... hmm I wonder who it was

    May 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  17. Whatever

    The real question you all should be asking is why the Christian right cares about g.a.y marriage but not about divorce. Children from broken homes do poorly in school and that has a negative impact on our country as a whole. If the Christian right cared half as much on other topics, I don't think they would be ridiculed on their views on g.a.y marriage. No consistency. When the Christian right freaks about one sin, but not another, it certainly damages their credibility.

    May 24, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      And what about the 700,000+ abortions had by believers in the USA each year. Seems to me that should be a way bigger 'sin' to eliminate than what consenting adults do behind closed doors, not that *I* want to see a change to current abortion laws. Hypocrites!

      May 24, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Whatever

      @HotAir...yep...hypocrites for sure. One of my favorite quotes is from Bennan Manning:

      "The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable."

      ...I don't know if it's the greatest cause of atheism, but it certainly is up there!

      May 24, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  18. Xgirl360

    ~ 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!" ~

    Wow...so locking up a person who's committed no crime is okay as long as you feed them? I'm pretty sure that doesn't mesh with Luke 6:31 "Do to others as you would have them do to you." Jesus was pretty implicit with regards to self-righteous and hypocritical behavior.

    Romans 3:10-11
    New King James Version (NKJV)
    10 As it is written:

    “There is none righteous, no, not one;
    11 There is none who understands;
    There is none who seeks after God. <-– This applies to this parish.

    May 24, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • ohmygod50

      Why are people shocked? They are hill billies....

      May 24, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • ohmygod50

      Incest os probably OK with this red neck.

      May 24, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  19. wisdomVS

    The church is going to H*ll and the fundamentalist preachers are leading the way!

    May 24, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  20. NotNormal?

    gay Christians are praying for these clueless people. Let's not blame all of North Carilina. I know many gays in Charlotte and Asheville are hurt and upset at their state over Amendment One. This fool in Marion just wanted to rub salt into a fresh wound to gain recognition for himself.

    May 24, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
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About this blog

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.