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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. No need to believe

    This guy is a joke, I don't know if it is he who makes me sick, or the obvious "open" minded Christians sayin "amen" after each of his sentences. I say investigate the hate speech and put him on trial for assembly of a hate rally. What happens when one of his followers kills a local gay society member over what he is preaching? Will he be held responsible like Manson or even Hitler? You can roll this off like its an exaggeration, but the truth is this has been a proven throughout history. Everybody wants to protect their broken religion so bad that they just sweep this under the table with no true consequences.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Craig

      I we arrest him, we would have to arrest all of them and at least one past president.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • No need to believe

      I completely agree with that concept, but what we are providing is that as a nation we get to pick who is evil, and who is not. You can't deny that this type of speech can cascade into a negative effect upon its followers.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Tanya

      Girlllllllll! They could do an entire successful reality show around that weird guy in the car. America loves to watch a train wreck. Just turn the cameras on and watch a train wreck a minute. I would love see a whole season of him explaining the Bible. The entire country would either be in tears or rolling with laughter. I wish I was a producer. I would sign him up.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Amanda

      Note to dumb rural folk: When CNN shows up, go in the house. Please! You will inevitably make a complete fool of yourself.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Shane

      Does he not remember when Christians were eaten by lions? History will teach us nothing. What would he have to say about someone espousing the return of this sport?

      May 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Zachary

      Put me behind an electric fence if you must, just get me the hell away from the freak in that car.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  2. PDXNorth

    "...And you know in a few years, they'll die out. You know why? They can't reproduce."

    Is guy for real? Where does he think the Gays and Lesbians that are here came from? Fairie dust? Last time I checked mom and dad were straight!

    May 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Alex Gessong

      @PDXNorth: you are proof that rational thought still exists. This nutty preacher is proof that irrational, un-American rants can still find defenders even in the 21st century.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  3. D

    ROFL, funniest bit:
    "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!" "

    As if feeding these theoretical prisoners makes it all totally right!
    LMAO

    May 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Sarah

      I just hope they give me a toothbrush.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Tuscanny

      You are just so smart...first of all ~the person DID give their name(but the reporter didn't air it)....second...they are not a member of that church and third...the interview was cut out...originally it was 5 minutes long but edited to a few seconds...maybe you should not be so quick to judge yourself!

      May 23, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  4. Bill

    good ol' hate spewing GOP conservative family values in action! The GOP has nothing in common with Christianity – do not get these two mixed up and don't follow this false prophet. The GOP uses religion just like the Taliban.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Craig

      Gay people have gone from the cradle to the grave for generations espousing this message to no avail.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  5. druffmaul

    See, they're called "Christians" because they follow all of Christ's teachings and are more Christ-like than anyone else.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Bill

      That's true, but this "pastor" is not following Christ's teachings of love, mercy and grace. All this guy is doing is promoting GOP values

      May 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • No need to believe

      But you see Bill. This is only one of two pastors in the last month expressing that hate and violence solves the "issue" our great nation has with gay marriage. No telling how many other pastors in the backwood area giving thier sermons, no telling how many people soak it up then go to thier work and school to bully or push around gays or lesbians. What happens if some conservative "job creator" eats this BS up then places work restriction on his gay employees. America is so big that sometimes we forget that not everybody lives in a major city. Some people's only way in life is to attend that church every Sunday cause that's all they have ever known.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  6. Gary Sumner

    More Proof Religion is more divisive than any other man made construct. Little invisible men in the sky controlling things is so out-dated that you shouldnt be allowed to have a drivers license if u still believe in ANY God! EDUCATE YOURSELVES!

    May 23, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  7. Na

    good lord pastor stop acting like such a liberal

    May 23, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Horus

      Now that's funny right there! Conservatives would just line 'em up and kilt 'em.....

      May 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      No, its rightwing conservatives who cling to guns and religion and bahave like this teabagging lunatic!

      May 23, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  8. AJR

    "The less you know, the more you believe"

    Love that quote. So appropriate.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  9. amitola76

    "We love the people, hate the sin"...Oh ok, let's just overlook all the other sins that are being committed?! Looks like the pastor is breaking one of the deadly sins himself! Gluttony...So go right ahead spew your hate and filth about others but don't forget your judgement day....GOD LOVES YOU ALL!!!

    May 23, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Alex Gessong

      Preacher forgot what Christ said: "judge not, lest you be judged." Preacher also forgot that Christ said "love one another." And he forgot that Christ didn't shun "sinners." Instead He went among them and preached a better way. This nut job doesn't deserve to be called a minister, and anyone who follows him doesn't understand what "Christian" means.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  10. Schindler's List

    Hateful preachers need ethnic cleansing!

    May 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • jake

      'hateful preacher' is not an ethnicity... you comment makes no sense

      try again...

      May 23, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  11. Shadowcandy

    We'll all account for the hateful things we say and do before God no matter what's your stance in life. Do unto others as you would have done to you!!

    May 23, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Gay in Texas

      Do unto others? I allow you to get married, no what will you allow.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      But hate them, just the same, right?

      May 23, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • sam

      Well, apparently it's ok to feel the way the pastor does, just don't say it out loud like that – just condemn gays silently and vote their rights away. That's what all my good christian friends and neighbors do!

      May 23, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Shadowcandy

      @Gay
      Get married. Pretty simple isn't it?

      May 23, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Shadowcandy

      @sam
      Condem Gays? I'll leave that to the religious fanatics who think they're perfect. I however, don't have that same bigoted mentality and wouldn't condem gays. I would say I don't agree with the act of it, but that isn't enough reason to hate or opress a person. Instead, why not live and be happy? That sounds good to me. Can we all agree?

      May 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Primewonk

      " I would say I don't agree with the act of it,"

      What act is this you speak of? Perhaps you are not aware that gay folks don't do anything different in bed than we straight folks do. 50% of us straights have had analysis sèx, and 80% of us have oral sèx.

      We are all "sodomites'. Thank god!

      May 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  12. Bob

    I do agree that the church should lose its tax exempt status for opposing Obama. I'd feel the same way if the pastor opposed Romney, which I'm sure he does since fundamentalists also believe Mormonism is a cult.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Angie

      "Lay off my pastor" is just a juicing invitation to "lay it on" your pastor. He deserves the scorn of humanity.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  13. Jose

    This is what churches do, domesticate members to be followeres of leaders and pastors instead of being followers of Jesus. Their brains become very submissive to the inconditional loyalty to the pastors loosing completly critical thinking to see who Jesus was and what kind of siciety He invited us to become. The tirany of religion seeks to kill what the say they want to proclaim. I am glad they are getting octisized.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  14. Dennis F

    This 'Pastor' is as fine an example of the Chriatian faith as Osama Bin Laden was of the Muslim faith!

    May 23, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  15. Kelly

    Free Speech means we have to protect the speech especially when we don't like to hear it. This country was founded because the people were tired of being persecuted for speaking their beliefs.

    That doesn't just mean freedom from prosecution it also means freedom from persecution. Threatening the church tax exemption is just another way of "legally" silencing speech.

    If anything there should be laws to protect citizens from persecution because of their speech.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • sam

      Well, Kelly, when people start inciting hate against others, and encourage their flock to vote in ways that restrict the rights of others, they're involving themselves in the parts of society that pay taxes. How about that?

      May 23, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • xeno

      He's free to say whatever he wants, however, when his speech violates the civil liberties of others, and when his speech attempts to influence politics, my tax dollars don't have to support it. The rules on tax exempt status are clear, and he violated them.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Patrick

      Sounds like you're wanting to silence free speech if you don't like it.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Jonah

      Except this wasn't free speach. It was HATE speach. There's a definitive difference. "Pastor" Worley crossed the line and should be held accountable.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • dalewoodruff

      Kelly, nobody has said that he doesn't have a right to say what he said... as deplorable as it is. What that was in reference to was that churches have a 503c tax status that allows them to be exempt, but there are conditions to it. One such condition is that the church not participate in driving it's members to vote a certain way. While my explination is fairly quick and dirty, the referenced complaint to the IRS is that the individual FOLLOW the existing law.

      they are welcome to stop being a 503c church and then they can say whatever they want, they just won't be able to be tax exempt.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • rootypoots

      Free speech..Uh NO, they should lose their tax exempt status for overtly pushing a political agenda..that's how it's supposed to work. That's not opposing anyone's "freedom of speech" – what a ridiculous notion.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Reason77

      You are for free speech? Then you agree that committed monogamous gay couples should be free to call their relationships marriages. Restricting the right of a gay couple call their relationship a marriage is abridging their free speech rights.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      It is that same type of hateful and divisive free speech that incited and inspired an insane gun man to go on a shooting rampage a year ago in Arizona, leaving six dead and Congresswoman Gabriella Giffords crippled for life! When free speech serves to undermine our democracy and hurt our people, then it is not free speech at all!

      May 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • FritzfromPa

      This phony preacher has called for murdering Lesbians by electrocution. If that is free speech, then we're all idiots. He is no more a follower of Jesus or any other hallowed reasoning, just a hatefilled, undereducated, bigot who is making money by pimping his version of religion to people too insecure and undereducated to gain knowledge of right and wrong by themselves. These are people who choose to be lead around by haters like this man. I'll bet Dick Cheney would like to face this nutcase and ask him why he wants to fry Cheney's daughter Mary and partner. Cheney would quickly tell him to GFY and then knee him in his netherparts.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Me II

      Accepting tgax exempt status is conditional on a lack of certiain political speech. Pay taxes, like everyone else and say whatever you want.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • EMcK

      Free Speech does not mean "free of consequences". For instance, libelous speech is not covered under the First Amendment. You also can't yell "FIRE" in a crowded theater (unless, of course, there is really a fire).

      If your tax-exempt status is contingent on you not endorsing a political position or candidate, and you vocally do so, you are in violation of the agreement that grants you the tax-exempt status.

      Sorry, that's not a free speech issue, it's a matter of living up to the standards under which you accepted the tax-exempt status.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  16. Will

    His argument is so stupid. If you segregate males and females, they wouldn't be able to reproduce.... it makes no difference whether they are gay or straight.

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

      Exactly, this Idiot Pastor does not understand that Gay and Lesbians come from people like him who can procreate. That is how backwards and ignorant these people are.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  17. jo an

    Sad man!! Can you believe what a 'tough' life he has had and how much harm he has done to other???

    May 23, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  18. hecep

    With the threat of the church now losing it's tax exemption, perhaps the good pastor will know the feeling of persecution and eventually modify his future rhetoric. Not that it would be about the money, you understand.

    May 23, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  19. streets950

    Hmm, I wonder who'll be the first to put "Arbeit Macht Frei" on the gay/lesbian camp entrances?

    May 23, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Pastor Charles Worley for Mitt Romney

      Donal Trump would be the entrance guard!

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

      You've just laid out the full extent of the pastor's followers' knowledge of the German language.

      May 23, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Sra. Julia

      Just what I was thinking, but you beat me to it. This kind of thinking is just like the Nazis, of course some of these so called preachers would like that.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • amitola76

      Least he's putting me with the lesbians I couldn't deal with a bunch of queens;p

      May 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Perhaps instead of Jesus Fish emblems on their cars, his congregants should get belt buckles that say "Gott Mit Uns".

      May 23, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  20. Pastor Charles Worley for Mitt Romney

    Obama/Biden 2012 by a landslide!

    May 23, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Joshua the Agnostic

      You underestimate the capacity of Americans to oppress those who have less value to them.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:04 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.