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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. Patrick

    Good for CNN and all the other news organizations for going after this hatemonger and trying to hold him accountable.

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

      agreed. i will fight for you to say anything you want - but i will also hold you accountable for your hatred and bigotry.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Think for yourself

      Welll he DID say he would fly above them and drop some food...

      May 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Ronald Hussein Reagan

      Once President Obama's gay marrriage mandate becomes law and marrried hetero men have to go out and find a gay partner in order to continue their hetero marriages I predict there willl be a widespread outbrreak of complaints from both commmunites. THis is not even mentioning how irdked all the wives willl be at having to share their husbands with another man. THe husbands, I predict willl graduallly get used to having another woman in bed.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  2. katchaser

    David the adulterer, Paul (Saul), the murderer, Peter, the lair, Thomas, the doubter and Jonah, the poor escape artist, all had purpose. To vote against your best interest is ludicrous.

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

    Thank God that we live in a free country where people can choose to worship as they please and believe as they want to. Who cares what this pastor preaches in his pulpit? He is free to preach as he wishes based on how he interprets Scripture. If some are offended, get over it. He has done nothing wrong. This is a non-story. Let it go.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Jon O

      You're right – people can have opinions. But when those baseless, scripture-based opinions make it into our public policy, we have an issue.

      It's only a non-story when people like this are the exception. In our current discriminatory nation, they are not the exception – they are the rule.

      And this opinion and the oppression it includes is decidedly non-American and certainly not Christ-like.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • xeno

      Wrong. He's NOT free to try to influence how people vote while enjoying tax exempt status.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Patrick

      He has done nothing wrong? Have you ever read the Bible???

      May 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Horus

      We have as much right to counter his hate-speech as he does to spew it. Don't like it? Don't read our posts.....

      May 23, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Jon O

      "Patrick
      He has done nothing wrong? Have you ever read the Bible???"

      Have you? Please provide the specific Bible entries where Jesus says that's how people should be treated.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Frank

      Could you only imagine the reaction of Christians if some leader stood up and said that they should
      all be rounded up and concentrated behind an electric fence?

      What this pastor is proposing is no different from the Nazis rounding up the Jews and concentrating them
      in one location, behind an electric fence I might add. This guys is nothing more than a Christian Nazi.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "Have you? Please provide the specific Bible entries where Jesus says that's how people should be treated."

      Why do you exclude everything else men said god supposedly said about gays, sla..ves, and women and only adhere to what men said Jesus said? Cherry picking the bible again I see....

      There are plenty of references about your god talking about sto..nings (John 10:25-40), disc..rim..ination against g..ays( Leviticus 20:13), owning slaves and bea...ting them (Exodus 21:20-21), bea...ting children (proverbs 23:13), ra..pe and mur...der (Judges 21:10-24). etc.

      It is pretty clear where you igno..rant people get your morals from....unfortunately.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  4. me

    this is how things work
    you get one side going way out in one direction then you get the other side doing the opposite
    how about we just live and let live

    May 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • guyguy

      I remember people in the south saying the same thing during the civil rights movement, and during apartheid in south africa.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  5. steve jones

    dumb red necks

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

    Wasn't this solutioin tried in the last century? I believe NAZI Germany had a whole series of camps like this not only for Gays and Lesbians, but Roma, Catholics, Jews, and "intellectuals".

    Isn't the Church called to convert, not condemn? I seem to remember hearing "Love thy neighbor as thyself", and Gays and Lesbians live in just about every neighborhood in every city, town, or village in the world. That makes them our neighbors, doesn't it?

    Adolf Hitler was handing out the shirt off his back around the mid-20th century. It was a brown shirt, and that movement lead to virtually every nation on the face of the earth going to war. Is that what this Baptist "pastor" is advocating again?

    May 23, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Jon O

      You're also forgetting the organized Christian church's (Rome) refusal to acknowledge the crimes and atrocities of the Nazis for fear that their golden city in Italy may be destroyed by the fascist Italians and Germans...

      Cover your own butt first, morality second... this is what the bible teaches apparently.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  7. Jon O

    "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.""

    So strong that apparently Jesus' lack of a death sentence for Gays wasn't enough, he had to create one.

    Gee, some would consider putting words into Christ's mouth a sin?

    May 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  8. guyguy

    love how the paster says it's not holsum thinking. Let me go a step further, this is the kind of thinking and acting which starts genocide.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  9. pinkhaze

    I think we need to dig a big hole and put the pastor in it. No, food, no water and in a few weeks he will no longer be able to spew his hatred. If Christ was standing next to him he would be appealed. God is not looking down on you or your congregation with love and affection. More like let me make a pillar of salt out of you.......

    Our founding fathers had it right yet again. Separation of church and state. We don't need people like this telling us, we the people how to live.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  10. Anon

    What this i.d.i.o.t said is more like what we did to Ja.p.a.n.e.s.e Americans during W.W.II than what H.i.t.l.e.r did

    May 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      WhatWhatWhat?

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

      both, actually. hitler took it farther, but he started off by rounding up specific groups, including g.ays. we did the same thing to j.apanese americans. both were disgraceful.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Anon

      Yes, Hitler took it much further by torturing and killing them. What this i.d.iot wanted was just containment, which was like what the US did to the J.a.p.anese. Obviously a dishonerable time in our nation's history. What worse is that we did nothing to G.erman Americans.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Anon

      I didn't mean worse in the sense that we should have contained Germans, just that obviously the decision to contain the J.a.p.anese was racially motivated.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  11. pellmellus

    Question: If this guy were b1ack and spewing out hatred against whites, would CNN highlight it? You know the answer.....

    May 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Solex

      Yes- the answer is one has nothing to do with the other and your racist fears control your life.

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

      doubtful but remember the news is entertainment, not news. read the wall-street journal, or the new york post, if you want non opinion peaces.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Victor

      Yes, I'm pretty sure they would

      May 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      haha, there's proof they would on their website right now. reverend wright is making the headlines again. so they've proving they'll do it multiple times with the same idiot even.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • xeno

      Jeremiah Wright's hate was all over CNN, so your point is invalid.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Jon O

      They covered Rev. Wright pretty extensively.

      I guess real history disproving your stupid accusatory post doesn't count, does it?

      May 23, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • purnellmeagrejr

      POOR,poor, white man – everybody always picks on you – the LIBERal Media in particular don't telll you what you want o hear – alll the time favoring the minorities who are cuttting in line in front of you. Pooor, Pooor, fellla. Keep your chin up.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  12. NFLD thought

    Just what the world needs; a Town full of whack-jobs.
    Who are these people, maybe they need to be the ones put behind an electric fence to protect society

    May 23, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  13. Doug

    If you love he sinner, then you probably shouldn't lock him up behind an electrified fence.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  14. Sane

    Christians should be kept in a zoo setting.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      And you do that by ridiculing them every chance you get. That's the only way to eradicate this disease, make it laughable in public to talk about it. And tax them just like everyone else, why should they get a free ride?

      May 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Marcus

      I live in North Carolina and I get to hear this type of rediculous rhetoric over and over. You just have to learn how to turn it all off after a point. These types of "preachers" are generally uneducated and fearful of anything that doesnt follow the bible word for word.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  15. Jordan

    Gay is not a religion....hence, not racist to call them out....

    May 23, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • sam

      It's not a race, either. You know that, right?

      May 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • YeahRight

      LMAO b- Gays are being denied their civil rights and the experts have shown that being gay isn't a choice, it's not a mental illness and it can't be voluntarily changed.

      Being a prejudice bigot is your choice. Duh.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Horus

      Religion is also not an ethnicity, so to call them out is not racist either.....

      May 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  16. pellmellus

    I am not sure what is more shameful, this article or the many of the comments I see here of hatred toward this guy. He can say whatever he wants to say. He has harmed no one, except "feelings" and once you go down that road of punishing someone for hurting feelings, we've become society no one would want to live in. Get over it, move on. Just remember that people say outrageous stuff all the time, CNN only highlights certain ones!

    May 23, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      yep, he can say whatever he wants - and so can we. that's the awesome thing about freedom of speech - but prepared to be held accountable for your views.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • pellmellus

      The preacher is a dummy but all the folks here who think he should be censored are hypocrites. You don't really believe in freedom-the Nazis were no different.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Merry Prankster

      I don't think he should be censored but still needs to be held accountable. Preaching intolerant and radical views to a bunch of radical fundamentalist sheep is never a great idea.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  17. WhatWhatWhat?

    C'mon man, after all, it's only North Carolina.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  18. Sumo

    This "pastor" is exactly what's wrong with America today. I'd go and help protest the church myself if I lived any closer.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  19. Na

    Great, and Obama is a self-avowed church-goer himself who prays daily.

    and we wonder what the problem with this country is?

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

      he's a closeted atheist. he knows that an atheist couldn't be elected president. he'll admit it in his book after his 2nd term.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      Dude, that's what they say in public, because how would an atheist ever get elected? He might have feelings like that, OK. But he probably believes everyone should mind their own business, and not discriminate, too.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • earlbowden

      And so did George Bush.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  20. Joshua the Agnostic

    Anyone who thinks being Gay is a disease that can be cured has obviously spent zero time with Gay people.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:07 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.