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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. Colin

    The next time a Bible-cuddler says to me “why do you atheists care if people believe?” I am going to point to this video. Here we are in the 21st Century, in one of the most advanced nations on Earth, arguing the propriety of two consenting adults making a financial commitment to one another, based on various interpretations of Iron Age Palestinian mythology.

    Although the Bible-cuddlers do not want to admit it, the scientific evidence of the genetic cause of h.omos.exuality, heteros.exuality, bis.exuality, and transgenderism is overwhelming, and more peer-reviewed studies which bolster this fact are being added all the time. Science has long regarded s.exual orientation – and that's all s.exual orientations including the most common, heteros.exuality– as a phenotype. Simply put, a phenotype is an observable set of properties that varies among individuals and is deeply rooted in biology. For the scientific community, the role of genetics in s.exuality is about as "disputable" as the role of evolution in biology or the role of sugar in sweetening coffee.

    Don’t confuse this, however, with the so called “gay gene”. No gay gene has been found, and it's highly unlikely that one ever will. This is where conservative Christians and Muslims quickly say "See, I told you so! There's no gay gene, so being gay is a choice!" But that's not at all what it means. No "tall gene" will ever be found, but that does not make height a choice.

    Many genes, working in sync, contribute to the phenotype and therefore have a role in s.exual orientation. In many animal model systems, for example, the precise genes involved in s.exual partner selection have been identified, and their neuro-biochemical pathways have been worked out in great detail. A great number of these mechanisms have been preserved evolutionarily in humans, just as they are for every other behavioral trait we know.

    Furthermore, there are many biologic traits which are not specifically genetic but are biologic nonetheless. These traits are rooted in hormonal influences, contributed especially during the early stages of fetal development. This, too, is indisputable and based on extensive peer-reviewed research the world over. Such prenatal hormonal influences are not genetic per se, but are inborn, natural, and biologic nevertheless.

    So, whatever else you want to think about h.omos.exuality and your position on it; two truths remain; (i) h.omos.exuality is genetic; and (ii) there is no single “gay gene.”

    I doubt this will change many Christians’ mind, given that they have hardly demonstrated themselves as being limited by facts on most matters, but, to the extent your view is inconsistent with the above, it is factually misguided, whatever your value judgment on the matter might be.

    So, once again, the next time any Christian asks an atheist “why do you atheists try so hard to convince us God does not exist” you might like to reflect on the fact that, in the 21st Century, we are debating the rights of gay people to marry based not on any of the above material, but by quoting competing verses from a 2,000 year old book of Palestinian mythology.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      well said.

      the religious conservatives will be on the wrong side of history... again.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  2. Adam

    "I don't hate you, I just want you to all die," says Pastor with 15th century worldview, 12th grade grammar knowledge.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  3. upstatenyman

    OMG that is too funny. Some of his flock told the media "He said he would feed them" to lay off their pastor. Wonder what this Sunday's sermon will be about. What kind of food to drop to them? I mean really this chuch almost seem like the WBC with Phelps, but more militant in it's views.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  4. Jeff

    Absolutely disgusting.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  5. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    I'm sure he has already contributed to Mitt Romney's campaign! Religious lunatics!

    May 23, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  6. Wayne Blakely

    If you believe in God, then you know that He is a God of love. It is only His love that will draw you to Him and humble you before the cross. Many who are in elevated positions of the church have not recognized God's deep love for ALL sinners. It is so important to get out of this "us and them" mode of thinking.

    We are all sinners. And yet it is important that we don't seek to do away with God's Word in order to propagate a sin of which we simply cherish. Society is seeking to re-write the Word of God. Meanwhile there are many who claim to represent Jesus that make His love all but visible.

    Jesus loves and promises change to any of us who will put Him first in our life seeking to do His will instead of our own. If you don't agree or are not interested, He respects your decision. But He also acknowledges just that. It is your decision. That is what He blessed every one of us with in our fallen nature. He is not a God of force.

    Redemption is yours by freely accepting Him and letting HIm bring change to your life. Don't allow a voice of distortion prevent you from coming to know He who saves us from all sin, not in our sin. Choose today who you will serve. God... or self. All things are possible to those who believe upon Him with all their heart. http://www.knowhislove.com

    May 23, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • seebs

      Wayne, if you're going to make a big deal about the Bible, you should start with familiarity with what it says, and what it is. And perhaps most importantly, what it is not: It is not God. It is not one of the members of the Trinity. And "the Word of God" is a member of the Trinity. Please keep a clear distinction between the Bible and Jesus (who is the Word of God, according to the Bible).

      It is sort of amusing to note that your impassioned call for taking the Bible seriously is itself based on a claim which the Bible condemns as heresy.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Answer

      The better link for you is simply my advice: Don't be stupid.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  7. kenny

    this guy is a grade A ignorant moron giving "leadership and advice" to a bunch of even bigger grade A ignorant morons and now the world knows about them because they are sooooo massively ignorant and moronic its entertaining, surprising, sad, and hilarious all at the same time....

    May 23, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  8. Julie S

    For all of the hateful Christians out there giving the rest of us a bad name:

    Psalm 101:5

    Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure.

    Jeremiah 14:14-16

    And the Lord said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not come upon this land’: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed. And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword, with none to bury them—them, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out their evil upon them.

    Matthew 7:1-5

    “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

    James 4:11-12

    Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

    Psalm 28:3

    Do not drag me off with the wicked, with the workers of evil, who speak peace with their neighbors while evil is in their hearts.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      "while evil is in their hearts."
      yeah, but you're not hateful. you just think g.ays are evil. considering all the crazy and disgusting cr@p in the bible, i can't believe people hold that book up as a guide to living a good life. that book says to kill g.ays, non-virgin brides, disobedient children and anyone working the weekend.

      i can see you have a good heart. i can see you are a kind person that wants to do the right thing. and that's one of the worst parts of christianity. otherwise good people are tricked into disgusting prejudices. if you think g.ays are evil, you are h.omophobic. you are definitely a step above the ones saying this pastor is right, but you still think g.ays are going to burn in hell, apparently.

      leave the cult of christianity. think for yourself. it's the most liberating thing you'll ever do.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  9. martog

    Lets see, we've got angry gays, and polite gays, angry Christians, and polite Christians, angry atheists and polite atheists, angry agnostics, and polite agnostics, a few naive onlookers and a whole bunch of a**holes.

    What should that tell you?
    Tells me that you can't all possibly be right.

    How in the h*ll does it infringe on your world if a couple of that love eachother want tone married? It doesn't. And to take a 'stand' against it doesn't make you a better Christian or a patriot, it makes you a bigot who refuses to accept someone who's different. If God didn't want people to be gay he wouldn't have made gay people. And make no mistake, some folks are just born gay. Deal with it.

    I've known plenty of gays and lesbians who are wonderful people, and can't fathom that they'd be turned away at the gates of heaven. What I can imagine, is someone who lived their life with the audacity to tell others what God wants or doesn't want, based loosely on the words of a bunch of guys who were last in the line of a few hundred year-long game of 'telephone', being given a second look at those same gates.

    If two people are in love and want to get married they should be free to do just that. No government, no ballot, no society, and certainly no book should have anything to do with dictating otherwise. Period.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  10. martog

    Top Ten Signs You're a Christian
    10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.
    9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.
    8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.
    7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!
    6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
    5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.
    4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs – though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."
    3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.
    2 – You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.
    1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Nate

      Can I say wow hit the nail on the head!

      May 23, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Heather

      martog,
      I am a christian and I couldn't agree with you more. If I were raised in China I'd be Buddhist. If I were raised in Egypt, then Muslim. But I was raised in America- so I was raised Christian. I also happen to be a lesbian and know without a doubt that I was born gay, whether by a fluke of nature (highly unlikely) or God's will. I chose to believe it was God's will.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  11. YBP

    I predict a new Civil War in the US...I mean with real firearms and real casualties...as we inch closer and closer to Nazi Germany and Orwell's 1984. History repeats itself.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • sam

      I doubt it – we're all too lazy, and we have the internet. The war will be fought right here.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  12. Justin

    When people becomes educated, they move North...does this really surprise anyone?

    May 23, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Joshua the Agnostic

      I'm pretty well educated, and I don't like the cold. I find your post highly uneducated.

      People have an inherent need to belong, and in the South it is found at Church.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Really?

      When "people becomes educated"? Really?

      May 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  13. sc

    Maybe this fat azz should check out the sin of GLUTTONY!!!!!!!!!!

    May 23, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  14. Horus

    You know it seems like George Carlin already came up with this idea for hardened criminals and pedophiles in one of his stand-ups. Surely Worley you wouldn't borrow from a die-hard atheist, and revision it as your own......

    May 23, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • YBP

      Criminals? Pedophiles? I thought gays and lesbians were more like alcoholics and drug addicts. (That's sarcasm, by the way.) Idiot.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Horus

      YBP – thanks for the name-calling while clearly missing my point; which was that George Carlin did a bit on taking a group of people, fencing off a state (or two) and so on. I am for individual rights and was being sarcastic. I guess when you have nothing productive to say simply resort to name calling......

      May 23, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Anon

      The best part was when he proposed sliding gates 12 inches wide connecting the pens that would only be open for 7 seconds once a month.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  15. David

    I think it's interesting that of all the things the bible says are wrong, this is the one thing this guy picked out as being worthy of locking millions of people up in concentration camps.

    I wonder if maybe he's not so much a religious man, as a ignorant bigoted redneck who hides behind religion?

    Just a thought.

    Idea: let's put all the fascists who use religion to promote their disgusting agenda behind electrified fences.

    That would be OK, because we'd airdrop in some food and just let them die off on their own.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  16. kcv

    Why not put a fence around all the bacon lovers out there....the bible lists pork consumption as an "abomination" with a slew of other things. It's amazing how the ignorant and hateful only signals out what makes them uncomfortable or inferior.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • sam

      Ok, that's fine...so long as bacon is dropped on us.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • drb

      Don't forget shellfish!!..

      May 23, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • sam

      Yeah, drop bacon-wrapped scallops on us.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Wait...

      They're going to be dropping bacon wrapped shrimp and scallops on the gay folks in the dense???

      Curse my luck for choosing to be straight!

      May 23, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  17. agthorn

    Where is the original video of what the pastor said? Why is CNN not giving us that link and we only have to take their 'interpretation' of what he said (since the Media does such a good job of 'interpreting of late, e.g. Trevor Martin case, etc.).

    Let us all form our own opinion, since this CNN reporter obviously has, negating most of what the people are saying that he is interviewing.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      CNN posted the link in another article on this blog, however if you can't find that a simple google search will find it for you.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Answer

      The question of why? Well now there are a few possibilities..
      First off and most likely, whether it is truncated for effect or not, the whole content of the video is not needed. We don't need the scenes of people coming into church, leaving, coughing, sneezing ...etc. We don't need the extras.

      The minimum needed is the moment of the rant to the core of the hate. That is what is relevant.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  18. Colin

    They guy in the car so epitomizes small town Christians to me. Still basing his view of the World on the myth of Adam and Eve. I'm starting to wonder if any Christians actually make it out of middle school........

    May 23, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  19. Pam D

    didn't listen to his 'rant' and do not agree with what I've gleaned from the article that was said, but seems like there's quite a bit of judgement coming from the other side as well. He is another so-called 'pastor' leading a congregation in a way that does NOT represent all true pastors. It's true the Word of God says that God hates ALL sin – and Jesus came to die for ALL sinners....which is ALL of us. I am thankful that He has made a way for us to be accepted by Father God, the only way, and that is to accept His sacrifice and be robed in His Righteousness. We have NONE of our own. This man and his congregation need our prayers as much as those trapped in the lie of satan, the hater of our souls!

    May 23, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • ernestly

      Pam – now you have gone off the deep end – I told you not to drink that koolaid

      May 23, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  20. Grampa

    Using the pulpit to spread vicious hate is truly disgusting. This "pastor" is sick and his sickness is contagious. His rantings should be condemned loudly and clearly by every decent person in his town, in North Carolina, in America, in the world.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      And these are the same kinds of rightwing confederate hate preaching cross burning white supremacists African-Americans had to deal with during the Jim Crow era for racial justice and equality! Very sad that this kind of hate still exists in our society today!

      May 23, 2012 at 2:48 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.