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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. NG

    It's easy to be a big man in font of people dumb enough to listen to you, but lord forbid someone question your views. A real christian would stand up for his convictions and talk to the news media, not hide in his house like a little boy. However this coward is no man, and he is not a follower of god. Lord help him find redemption, and get to know the loving lord who would not put people behind a fence just because of the way god made them.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Mbane18

      He's not a real Christian. He's an Evangelical.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • WOW

      I@NG: If your such a big man yourself why don't you put your contact information in your comment and stand behind your comments. Thats right run and HIDE little boy.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • tracy

      Gee WOW,what is it you'd like to know about I@Ng?Hmm?Here's MY Contact Information&I WILL be helping to Protest this Evi.l Dic.tator This Sunday,along with 2000+individuals,NOT counting all the Churches that are busing in to stand with us against this Bigotr.y.Come join us why don't you,or if standing for Love,Peace,Tolerance isn't you forte,there will be a Cross Burning up the Street from us By the K.K.K on Saturday in support of Worley.From your comments,you will find kindred spirits in the latter.booolean2@yahoo.com..Satisfied?Worley needs to be in Prison for Sedition&Treason,He is a Domestic Terrorist Plain&simple!

      May 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  2. Richard Williams

    Please let your reporter know that what was proposed was not simply putting people in jail, but interning all members of a group in a concentration camp. This "pastor's" supporters look like they have their brown shirts already hanging in their closets.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  3. DamianKnight

    I just watched the video on YouTube of what he said. As a Christian...I can't believe, from the pulpit, he just said that. Wow. Unbelievable.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • I_get_it

      Anyone - ANYONE - can be a pastor. And anyone can find other loonies to 'follow' him.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  4. notsick

    God bless this pastor. We need more honest ones like him

    May 23, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Ivan Bial

      there is a differenct between honest and stupid racest

      May 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Patrick

      What's wrong with you?

      May 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Richard Williams

      You are the poster child for how a tyrant like Hitler built his support.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Mary

      Worley may honestly believe what he says but Hitler also honestly believed what he said, Jeffrey Dahmer believed what he said, Charles Manson believed what he said... etc.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      and notsick needs a healthy dose of .45acp ammo to the head. Stupid BIGOT

      May 23, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Horus

      Yep we do; because it makes it so much easier to prove religion to be precisely what it is.....

      May 23, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • steveincny22

      Yes indeed, I agree. Put all of them behind the fences and don't feed them!!

      May 23, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Karmina

      More like him? More that take the bible and interpret it however they want to instead of how God meant it to be interpreted? More that believe they are God, and that whatever they say should be how it is? More who make a living passing out what they believe is a correct judgement, when God has said he is the only one who can give a justified judgement. He will face God one day, and will probably be utterly dumbfounded when God won't let him into His Kingdom.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  5. hammerofastraea

    One up for Pastor Worley here in SW Oklahoma via ASTRAEA INVADE!!!!

    May 23, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Patrick

      Two down for him here in Southeastern Oklahoma.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      not surprised, nothing but rednecks down there spewing hate. stupid BIGOT

      May 23, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Stentor

      Yeah, you know what we always used to say in Nebraska? Better Dead Than Sooner Red.

      May 23, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  6. Terri Cylc

    Freedom of speech is one thing but he is a preacher, TEACHING all the congregants in his church. All take it from someone who has sat for years as a impressionable teenager under preachers like this...we want to be exactly like our preacher is, we want to beleive what he beleives, it sinks into your head. So this is what we have to look forward to- people who beleive that we can solve the problem by putting them in a fence. Oh the hate and hyprocrisy that must exsist in that town!

    May 23, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  7. BobZemko

    We can call the pastor's barbed-wire enclosure "Auschwitz II".

    May 23, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  8. Frank

    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.

    OH!....I didn't catch the part where he said he would at least feed them. Ok...my bad. You guys leave this compassionate man alone!

    May 23, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Ivan Bial

      great now I feel better they would be feed.. how could anyone has an issue with imprisoning and feeding people because of "fairy"tales written in a book .

      A mind is a terrible thing to waste

      May 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Stentor

      I believe the Nazis fed the Jews, still didn't stop it from being a concentration camp. Because that's what good old Pastor Chuck is advocating, a concentration camp for gays. I believe Sinclair Lewis had some thoughts on the matter.

      Except for half a dozen in each town the citizens are proud of that achievement of ignorance which is so easy to come by. To be 'intellectual' or 'artistic' or, in their own word, to be 'highbrow,' is to be priggish and of dubious virtue.

      I went to a denominational college and learned that since dictating the Bible, and hiring a perfect race of ministers to explain it, God has never done much but creep around and try to catch us disobeying it.

      I have defined the hundred per cent American as ninety-nine per cent an idiot.

      I've sat at the preachers' feet and listened to them, faithfully, and tried to make myself become what they said I ought to be. I'm through! I do my own thinking now and my own bossing. I don't believe in fear of divine vengeance, and I do believe in justice and equality.

      When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.

      May 23, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  9. JPX

    It astounds me that the South remains 100 years behind in modern thought. One more reason I stay out of the South. What is it about religious people and hatred? I suppose they don't see the irony of their behavior.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • pre-runner

      fundamentalist christians are the anti-christ. sad but true. any questions?

      May 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Mbane18

      "fundamentalist christians"? These would be people like Mother Theresa who left everything behind to help the poor. These other people you are refering to are Evangelicals. Nut cases who hide behind religion.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Edward

      It remains the greatest advantage of living in the North. There are no Southerners here.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  10. Rose

    What you see in this "preacher" and his supporters is terror. These back-woods fundamentalists have been forced to accept rights for Blacks and women. They know equal rights for gays are coming. They are going to fight it with all they have. They use hate, mis-interpretations of the Bible, fear, and the threat of genocide.

    These fundamentalists cling to their desperate need to feel superior to others. Yet, when they open their hateful mouths, the world can see their ignorance and intolerance.

    I thought our society moved beyond so much ignorance and hate. Guess these types of incidents have the hidden blessing to shake us our of our complacency and get back to the hard work of winning and protecting our equal rights and freedom.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Patrick

      I'm agin it, my mama was agin it, my first cousin who I took lovingly as my wife is agin it, and if you got any sense you'd be agin it.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • WOW

      eeewwww.... terror! REALLY? Grow up. Anyone can hate just as anyone can say they are GAY! BOOO! Did I scare you Rose?

      May 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  11. dv

    Stop claiming your charitable status (and forcing me to subsidize your hate) and then you can say what you like.

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

      Amen.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  12. Dan

    I believe the last time someone rounded people up, put fences around them, etc., it was 1939. His name was Adolf Hitler.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  13. Terri Cylc

    Oh nice, he's ok because he said "he'd feed them". Yeah, that makes this ALL better! This sermon is just one example of why I no longer sit under the TEACHINGS of a preacher week after week. He could have just taught what the Bible says, but nooooo, he had to make a RIDICULOUS, HATEFUL statement about putting them behind an electrified fence til they "die out"!! W e are talking about PEOPLE, not COWS! In one breath these church members say to "love them hate the sin, yet in another they say the preacher is right, its in the Bible, blah, blah, blah. The church took the sermon off their website- i"d say thats an admission of knowing this preacher took it a bit too far. Oh, this is so sad when I think of all the young IMPRESSIONABLE kids who attend this church.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  14. Talia

    That's NC for ya! I live in Iredell county, the next county over. Went to look at the newspaper this morning and low and behold...the front page was advertising a KKK meeting for this Saturday. Not only is NC in the bible belt...it's the buckle! LOL.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      It is hard to take seriously the beliefs of any group that hides behind a cowl.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  15. WOW

    "Oh I am Gay, don't say that to me, I don't like it, boohooo"

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

      Yeah. If that were all it boiled down to you might have a point. I feel sorry for any gay or le $bi an child in that congregation though. He may be helping to raise America's next serial ki11er.

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

      Crap. The special snowflake troll migrated.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • ME II

      "Oh I am straight... don't you get married, because I don't like it. boohooo"

      May 23, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • WOW

      Sam I am must be our daily Dr. Seuss character from fairly land.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • tracy

      WoW,had a Muslim Cleric said these exact same things,your kind would be howling from the rafters to take that"Terrorist"down.Hypocrisy&Cognitive Dissonance are your kinds staple.There's NO difference.ANYONE calling for the wholesale round-up,detainment,torture&Murdere of U.S Citizens is a TERRORIST,no matter WHAT Book of Fairy Tales they read from&should ALL be sent to Gitmo.Let's see how THEY like being Fenced off.They deserve it because they have broken the Law.Crazy people will act on what their Religious Leaders tell them to do.Christianity leads the World in SPADES for number of Atrocities commited throughout History,no matter WHAT David Barton tells you.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  16. timsaxm

    Pastor – "...I was disappointed bad" Church member – "...that's not what he say it". I guessing that the English and Science teachers were one in the same in Maiden, NC.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  17. R. Wiggum

    Cue the banjos.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  18. Steven Mazie

    This episode and everyone's heated reactions raise tough questions about the limits of free speech and whether ideas as hateful as Worley's deserve a rational response or only our condemnation.

    CNN apparently doesn't allow web links in its comments, but if you'd like to read my reflections on this idea, search for "genocidal pastor" on Google or Bing; my piece should be your first hit.

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

      How would you go about providing a rational response to naive realism?

      May 23, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • No need to believe

      Our laws have a strict policy on the difference of "freedom of speech", and the assembly of hate speech. You can not type on here and say that this mans context was not out of hate for the gay community. You can sit there and say "well this video was taken out of context". But at what point would anybody suggest rounding up a group of people in a strategy to eliminate thier existence not hate speech sir?

      May 23, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  19. J.W

    Come on he said he would feed them. I am sure being in a concentration camp isn't that bad if you have food.

    May 23, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  20. Jordan

    Gay is not a race nor religion.......blah blah you dummy....

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

      How is it any different, other than that religions are obviously a choice.

      May 23, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • pre-runner

      what is your point?

      May 23, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • No need to believe

      And neither is redneck, so for a modest proposal, maybe we should seal these people in the south and let them inbreed it out....

      May 23, 2012 at 3:32 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.