May 28th, 2012
11:56 AM ET

Pastor's comments about gays draw protesters

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN)–Hundreds of protesters gathered this weekend in Maiden, North Carolina, to voice their displeasure with a pastor's statement that gays and lesbians should be rounded up behind electric fences.

Sheriff Coy Reid estimated between 1,500 and 2,000 protestors came to the Catawba County Justice Center for a peaceful protest on Sunday. He said only two citations for noise violations were issued and there were no arrests.

The protest was organized by the Catawba Valley Citizens Against Hate in response to a Mother's Day sermon by Pastor Charles Worley at Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden.

"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 said to his congregation on May 13. A video of his comments went viral 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."

Protestors chanted, "Love not hate," as the lined the road outside the Justice Center, which is 12 miles from thechurch.

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Organizers of the protest said they wanted to counter what they called the pastor's hateful words with love and stressed prior to the event that "our Peace Keepers will respond quickly and vigorously to any behavior that detracts from the peaceful, non-violent plans of this event."

On Friday night, vandals targeted the Providence Road Baptist Church, Lt. Daryl McCarty of the Catawba County Sheriff's office told CNN. "It appears that someone tried to set the air conditioning unit on fire in retaliation about his remarks against homosexuals and lesbians from the pulpit."

McCarty said there was "no extensive damage or anything. The incident appears to have happened on Friday night. It wasn't a big enough fire. It only burned the cover off of some wires."

An electric company easily repaired the damage Saturday, according to McCarty.

Sheriff Reid said trash was lit under the air conditioning unit to start the fire. The unit is up against a brick wall and he said it did not seem like the vandals were attempting to burn down the building, saying, "It appeared they were trying to disrupt the service."

The local fire marshal and a sheriff's deputy are investigating the fire further, Reid said.

He also noted that Worley had received death threats after his comments and his department was actively following up on them.

Repeated calls by CNN to the church and to the pastor's home for comment have not been returned. When Worley was approached outside his home on Sunday by CNN's Gary Tuchman and asked whether he would take back any of his comments, the pastor declined to comment.

The church's website has also been down, but it had described the house of worship as independent and fundamentalist. It represents a Baptist tradition self-described as "old-time religion" and the website said church members consider the 1611 King James Version of the Bible to be the "inerrant Word of God."

The church appears to be unconnected with any broader denomination. The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Baptist group, noted the Providence Road Baptist in Maiden is not affiliated with its 16-million member denomination and condemned the pastor's comments.

Last week in Maiden, members of the church vigorously defended their pastor, who has been at the church for more than two decades.

Some church members, who declined to give their names, said 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."

The sheriff said his deputies will be paying extra attention to the church building in the wake of the vandalism and threats. The church has about 300 members, he said.

Reid, who has been with the sheriff's department since 1979, said the area had never seen anything quite like this.
"We hope it's over," he said. "The protestors have had their say now, so we're hoping it all dies down."

-CNN's Dan Gilgoff, Ismael Estrada, Gary Tuchman, and Rick Martin contributed to this article.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Homosexuality

soundoff (1,365 Responses)
  1. Rick James

    I'm straight, but gays couldn't have better friends than people like Worley and his followers. It makes people on the fence side with equal rights just to get away from bigotry.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • iubj

      all 7 deadly sins spewed by this pastor and his followers.....
      gluttony check his stomach out and his fancy new car
      lust he lusts altar bois
      greed spewing hate and violence to get more int he paupers
      wrath hatred and anger towards his hidden side
      envy envious of those out of the closet
      pride desire to stand above all others regardless of the word above
      sloth denial of truths

      May 28, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  2. elijahhawaii

    The funny thing is that the guy in the video still looks sooooo fem! Hey, girl! That closet does have a doorknob!

    May 28, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  3. James Madison

    America is great! People have the freedom to express their views whatever they may be. It is a shame someone tried to burn down the church. It runs counter to the protestors "Love not Hate message." We should be able to express our views without violence.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • JonahBC

      you do understand that hate denotes violence....

      May 28, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • billy

      First of all the sheriff said it did not appear that they did try to burn the church down, but rather disrupt service. The fire was set outside near the AC unit. Second, it was probably just some kids.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • iubj

      it should be burned down then they can use their TAX EXEMPTION statues to build a mammoth church and buy the pastor a brand new car... cuz supreme luxury is what "GOD" wants....
      all 7 deadly sins spewed by this pastor and his followers..... gluttony lust greed wrath envy pride sloth

      May 28, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  4. JcainLas

    Does this idiot believe that gay people are only the children of other gay people? So there wouldn't be any gay children of straight people outside the fence? If the good reverend would only look past his hatred and bigotry, he would realize that almost all gays are the product of straight parents. (Outside of the fence.) This intellectual midget doesn't have a clue.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Rick James

      He thinks science is work of the devil, I'm sure. I'm not surprised.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Karina

      Amen! And being gay has nothing to do with morality....no more than red hair or being albino does.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • iubj

      CORRECTION: gingers are obviously evil

      May 28, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  5. Jerry

    This is the sum of the South. There are many like him. And this is a good example of the backwards thinking of people in the South. Many of my family members are Holier than Thou Jesus Freaks. And I managed to live through it as a gay dude. It is sad to see such a rift created by ignorance in people's lives. I know from first hand experience how such talk can tear apart families. I miss my family. But I will not put up with religious talk when I know it is a bunch of crap. Religious ignorance gives grown ups an excuse not to grow up.

    I thought becoming an adult would limit the trash talk I received as a kid. I now know, people never really 'grow up'. The only thing these people will understand is a limited view in their limited little world. They are the ones that need to be placed behind an electrified fence. Because they are acting like cancer in our society.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Karina

      Well said Jerry. As the parent of a gay child I find it inexcusable how many families have turned their backs on their own child for this. Organized religion is evil. God is all goodness and all love.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  6. mainegirl

    i would love to see someone throw the pastor INTO an electric fence. Close minded people. Thinking they are preaching the word of god but really using it as a cloak to hide their true reasoning. I say we round up all the people of that church, use the idea on them and see if they remain as calm and ok with the idea when the tables are turned. Gay marriage is on its way in. Just a matter of time. Dont like it? move

    May 28, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Caliguy

      just keep in mind that this is a free country. People have the right to express their opinion whatever it may be and a right to the freedom of their religion. If you do not like it, move. This is America.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  7. SoCalJasonland

    I wonder if he had a 1960s speech about blacks and fences?

    May 28, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • elijahhawaii

      Well it IS the South........

      May 28, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  8. Dave

    It's inconceivable to me that anyone could defend a man who insinuates concentration camps are a just way to impose morality on a population. In fact it is absolutely Un-American and spitting on the graves of all who gave their lives to uphold the freedom we hold dear. Those people should be ashamed of themselves. I know I am ashamed of them.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • bigjohnhunkler

      Did you express the same fervor when Rosie O'donnell said essentially the same thing about conservatives? Or when Roseanne Bar said bankers should be beheaded.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • grumpymedic

      Wall Street bankers aren't exactly human.

      May 28, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  9. Dan

    It is shameful that CNN cannot even survive on Memorial day without cramming a pro gay agenda article down our throats and demonizing anyone that opposes them.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Patrick

      The antigays don't need any help demonizing themselves.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Dan

      Patrik then you agree that CNN should not have published the article. Good.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Patrick

      I have no problem with them publishing the article. Look on the main page. How many stories? A lot. How many on a gay topic? One.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • teedofftaxpayer

      No one is cramming any thing down your throat. Did someone from CNN come to your home and hold a gun to your head and make you read the article. Get over yourself you're not worth time and effort. Your just another person filled with hate.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Patrick

      @teedoff – They love playing the victim.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Chris

      i think today would be fitting to have this. It seems that some very brave people died in vain because we all still not free. Not by any invasation but our fellow countrymen limiting and discriminating against somthing that harms none.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Tracy

      Agreed !! day after day all we hear about is the gays, PLEASE go back in the closet.

      June 11, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  10. robert

    More religious hatred.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Joe Blow

      How is this religious hatred? They are calling out the hate of religion, you hypocrite.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • robert

      @Joe Blow.. my comment was referring to the hatred and evil being spewed from those who claim to be holy and religious.

      May 28, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  11. tepeters

    Hate usually calls itself religion so it can hide.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  12. JonahBC

    Mema......A hate speech in a Christian Church is just plain wrong.... no matter how you look at it. Would you not agree that it is time to rearrange’ disparate mindsets towards a common goal of no more wars, no more sanctions, no more inequality, no more fables of imaginary enemies that breed real enemies in the end.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  13. dkhhuey

    You only have to read the comments from his cult members to understand the mentality and educational level of them...

    His words were taken out of context? No idiot, those were his actual words and there are no content before or after that changes them.

    He said he would feed them! Nice, this is after he kidnaps them and throws them into a prison, and they seem to be okay with this!

    Strip their tax exemption away and let these idiots fend for themselves to survive. They, nor any other religious cult, are not worthy of taxpayer subsidies!

    May 28, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • billy

      well said. i must add though that he said he would "drop food in." you know, so the food delivery guy doesn't catch gay when he interacts with the gays.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  14. LewBasnight

    Oh look, it's the gay Fred Phelps.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  15. Frank

    Much to the liberals dismay. We dont all have to condone SODOMY...

    May 28, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Bayousara

      This has nothing to do with "liberals." You just hate liberals and probably everyone else, don't you?

      May 28, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • dkhhuey

      The only dismay we have is in the fact that there are still Americans, like yourself, that hold such narrow minded, uneducated, hate filled beliefs.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Pest

      If you've ever received a hummer, then you're a hypocrite. If not, then live a little.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • lloyd roberts

      Plenty of gay conservatives too. They just hide. Lot's of conservative pastors hiding their gayness too, Haggard. Jim West, conservative mayor of Tacoma Washington, vetoed every pro gay initiative then got forced out because they found him trolling in a gay chat room. Admitted he was gay, but conservative. Liberals are just honest about being gay, conservatives have to hide and lie. No courage

      May 28, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Steve

      So you would have adulterers killed? That is also what it says in the bible! The problem with you is that you have no clue who wrote the bible, do you. For your information it is not the word of God but was written by humans that believed they were putting down the word of God. That is why it is not infallible and each time it got translated from the original Hebrew and Aramaic it lost some meaning. Oh, but you probably believe it was originally written in Latin or English, don't you? You probably believe that Jesus was blonde and white as well. Well if he was he certainly didn't come from the Middle East!

      May 28, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      My girlfriend likes sodomy and I like it when she does sodomy.

      May 28, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  16. nmmell08

    I just don't understand people like this. Its hateful and goes against everything Jesus says we should do. It makes me feel horrible about Christianity

    May 28, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Frank

      Where does the bible say SODOMY is ok? Where does it say that living a life of deviant s e x is condoned as NORMAL?

      May 28, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Dude Looks Like A Laity

      If what these folks say goes against what Jesus preached, then they are not for God are they? Christians have the hardest time with acceptance and forgiveness because they can't overcome their own vanity.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • dkhhuey

      @Frank – I know this is hard for your brain to understand but there are millions upon millions of Americans that do not read, follow, or abide your book of fairy tales and fables. If you want to run your life worshiping an invisible cartoon character in the sky and the hundred of other fictional stories in your bible – knock yourself out. Just keep it between you and your fellow cult members – we'd rather live by the fact that all men/women are created equal!

      May 28, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Patrick

      @Frank – You're seriously getting your info about human $e xuality from a book that says:

      Leviticus 25:44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

      Exodus 21:20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.

      Genesis 19:33 That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and slept with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

      34 The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Last night I slept with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and sleep with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.” 35 So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went in and slept with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

      36 So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father.

      Deuteronomy 22:28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and r@pes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

      Genesis 19:8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

      1 Timothy 2:11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

      1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.

      34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

      Matthew 19: (Jesus Speaking) 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for $ ex ual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

      1 Corinthians 7:10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

      Numbers 31: (Moses Speaking) 15 “Have you allowed all the women to live?” he asked them. 16 “They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the LORD in the Peor incident, so that a plague struck the LORD’s people. 17 Now ki11 all the boys. And ki11 every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      2 Kings 6:27 The king replied, “If the LORD does not help you, where can I get help for you? From the threshing floor? From the winepress?” 28 Then he asked her, “What’s the matter?”

      She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him today, and tomorrow we’ll eat my son.’ 29 So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him,’ but she had hidden him.”

      May 28, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • JonahBC

      Frank....please point me to where in the bible it says that it AOK to judge others?

      May 28, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  17. matdaniel

    The pastor hits the point, sodomites and lesbians can't reproduce unless it is by contagious means.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • voxhumana

      Have you ever stopped to think that 98% of gays and lesbians come from STRAIGHT parents and families? I guess we should round you all up too. You are ignorant and woefully ill informed.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Pas Typique

      Actually, if you took a group of straight men and put them in a fenced area and then took a group of straight women and put them in a fenced area, THEY wouldn't be able to reproduce either! I guess this "pastor" doesn't understand basic biology Duh!!!

      May 28, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      I think you better look up sodomy in a dictionary and then contemplate how many straight couples are doing it RIGHT NOW.

      May 28, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  18. Bruce

    There will always be someone who will hate someone no matter what they are or do. We can only ask God to forgive such hate.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  19. Davey

    I'm gay and I think this is the funniest thing I ever heard! I can't stop laughing reading this. Me and my friends make fun of ourselves and we say the same things all the time.

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

      You're full of poo. You do not do anything like that.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  20. mema

    I feel this whole thing has been blown way out of porportion. If you go to a convention on the right to bear arms what would you expect to hear. Or a KKK meeting? Or a Republican meeting? We know exactly what things to expect to hear. Why is this any different? Ok so it may be outragous or hatefull even. But we know what they believe and what their stand is on this matter. If we dont agree we do not go to that church or need to listen to it. Im a Christian should I go to an @thiest convention and then get in an uproar over the things said there? We have freedom of speech like it or not. If he had suggested getting a weapon and going out and harming someone than yes by all means punish that incitement of violence. But saying what could be done with no actual plans to follow through and build this fenced in area makes this just talk. A bit unkind and inapropriate maybe but no crime. The focus needs to stay on striving for equal rights and off of a persons opinion. Which are like bu£t h@les, everybody has one.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Frank

      Well said mema...

      May 28, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • darthwong

      "Freedom of speech" means you can't be thrown in jail for your opinions. It does NOT mean people can't protest you. "mema" fails Civics 101.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • carter

      I don't know about you, but I don't expect a church sermon to sound like something you'd hear at a Klan meeting.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • voxhumana

      Should we give a church tax exempt status if they spout political garbage. It may be free speech, I have no problem with that. Hitler would have had free speech in the U.S. at the time. But to grant him tax exempt status is absurd. It's clearly political speech. And even if he has a right, that doesn't mean it's good.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      Part of the whole fiasco has to be that pastor did not expect to be recorded, and have his sermon posted on You Tube. He was most likely aiming his entire sermon at what appeared to be a mostly empty sanctuary (Where was the Choir with all the empty seats behind him?), not at the whole world.

      Another part of this whole fiasco is the penchant on the part of these fundamentalist ministers to use the Bible from Genesis to Judges, then skip over everything else until they come to the Epistles of Paul (with extensive references to the minor Prophets that even Orthodox Judaism can't figure out what to do with). The point is they miss the entire teaching of Jesus, and only pay attention to the pre-kingdom period of the Jewish people and the interpretations of Jesus by a Pharisee who started out persecuting and executing Jesus followers.

      If these guys ever actually READ the Gospels, they would probably be amazed at the simplicity of Jesus teachings. He did not believe in an exclusionary teaching and exhorted his Desciples to love God and to love and forgive their fellow men and women.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • RevDana

      Mema, I agree with the sentiment of your comment, but I do not feel that the comments of the pastor should be allowed to stand without some public comment from other Christians. After all – he put his recorded comments out there (in the various media) for people to hear. The image of people locked up behind electric fences (to eventually die out) is so much like Nazi Germany that I believe it demands some kind of Christian comment. Many in Germany thought Hitler's ideas were not to be taken seriously also and many kept silent for too long. I would hate for us to wind up where they did. Yes, everyone has an opinion and some of those opinions don't deserve to be taken seriously and often the best response is to avoid giving them any public life because of our opposing comment – I get that – but when someone speaks about imprisoning any minority because they are a minority and letting them "die out" in the name of some misguided "Christian Value" – it is time for real followers of Christ to make it clear – at the very least – that true Christian values would never be in favor of such a thing. Thank you for your comment – as I said, I appreciate its sentiment. Keep on striving for for the faith and be blessed.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Joe from CT, not Lieberman, that pastor sounds like a ringer to stir the pot because it's election time.

      May 28, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      There were a bunch of freaks over in Germany in the 20s and 30s who talked about this stuff and people ignored them too...until it was too late.

      May 28, 2012 at 2:44 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.