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. ThinkAgain

    Saw a great cartoon the other day: God is standing in heaven, looking down at Earth and says to an angel, "I really hate my fans."

    May 28, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • EricM

      ironic, but there is a small sense of truth to it. Looking in the bible Jesus showed the most love and grace to those where not religious. He was most harsh towards the religious zealots who were condemning other people based on their rules and laws.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  2. Chris

    The bible (and by extension, God) is supposed to be about love and compassion. Its pastors like this who take passages out of the bible and out of context to push a personal conviction of their own that give organized religion a bad name and make people NOT want to goto church.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • EricM

      Yes, it is so sad to hear messages such as this which are contrary to christianity. Christianity is about a God whose very nature is love and while there are aspects to God nature such a holiness and righteousness, He does not hate anyone and would not condone the types of sermons this pastor is preaching.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  3. Cathy

    Such ignorance! In both the pastor and these responses. Most of the pastor's remarks are absolutely abhorrent. But the ignorant remark about them not being able to reproduce is unbelievably ignorant. Does he really think that a gay person will necessarily begat another gay person?

    May 28, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • ThinkAgain

      The pastor thinks being gay is a choice, because he just can't handle the fact that God is so much bigger than he can ever imagine – and that gay people, also made in God's image, are born gay.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • LetsThink123

      SO in that case, if god made gay people, why did he say in the bible that is an abomination for a man to sleep with another man? seems like the god of the bible contradicts himself all over the place. Or maybe the right answer to all these contradictions is that god doesn't exist, and the bible was written by man, hence it is full or errors/contradictions.
      Or maybe god is bored so he purposely created gay people and then says its wrong to be gay in the bible just to have a little fun? doesn't seem like a loving god to me as the christians claim.

      May 28, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  4. Mike

    Imagine the uproar if that were suggested we build a big fence, electrify it, put all the Christians behind it and drop some food in, but don't let them leave.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • ThinkAgain

      I agree. If anyone remotely suggested we take every Christian fundamentalist and put them in a concentration camp so they'd die out and we'd be rid of their hatred, you'd never hear the end of it.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Bob U.

      As I've always said, "so many Christians, so few lions."

      May 28, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Son Of Isis

      The only thing i would feed the christians,
      is to the lions.

      May 28, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  5. Freedom From Religion

    "He said he would feed them!" What a man of God!

    May 28, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  6. James Laka

    the interview with dude in the truck made sense...instead of the media attacking anyone that says their mind ...if gays and lesbians wont reproduce...then their infectious ways will die out...but more importantly the idiotic reporter thinks its his god given right to witch hunt...respect the converation; you dont have to like it...but you must respect the religious nuts if you want them to respect your nutty ways too.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Hammer Of The Gods

      **** if gays and lesbians wont reproduce...then their infectious ways will die out..

      The IGNORANCE is just stunning.
      Gays and lesbians dont have to reproduce.
      All gay babys come from straight parents.

      Is it a Christian thing, or a Republican thing ?
      So freaking stupid.

      May 28, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Ignorance is bad but when you combine it with stupid...whoooo!

      May 28, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  7. George

    Hitler will have a good laugh in his grave...This proofs NAZISM is still alive and well in NC. Just replace LBGT with Jews and we are back in World War II. This makes me wonder if this pastor is a decendent of the NAZI's that escaped under a false name to the US.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  8. Dale

    WOW CNN reporter.... nice impartial comments saying the pastor "Does not have the guts" to speak with you...

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

      They were just reporting the facts. Sick Pastor posted his sermon in public on the internet, then when the media went to him for a comment about it, he scurried away and hid.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  9. Mike

    It´s like we are getting back to the dark ages. I hope not to put a step on North Caroline ever!!!!

    May 28, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Truth Hurts

      To avoid an entire state because of the words of one man is to prejudice all of the people of NC because of the one or a few. It makes as much sense as starting a sentence with "all Blacks are...," or "all Hispanics are...," or "all Whites are.."

      May 28, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • NC citizen

      @ Mike...I agree, this is more of a "return to the dark ages" than any form of enlightenment. But don't avoid NC my friend...it's a big, diverse and beautiful place with all types of people. It's not like the Mayor of Charlottle ( pop. 730,00 ) or Raleigh ( pop. 400,000 ) said this – it was a pastor in Maiden, NC ( pop. 3,327 ). BTW, the counties with all of our major cities voted against the recent ban on gay marriage! Cheers!

      May 28, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  10. teedofftaxpayer

    What makes this guy any different than the Muslims zealots? Or for that matter Hitler? Hitler did the same things to the gays as well as the Jewish people and many Americans fought to stop him. Yet in so of your minds, this is acceptable. Kind of pathetic the hate projected in the name of God.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  11. nik green

    So, mainstream Christianity in the United States now includes hatred as part of Jesus' teachings. Hardly surprising, since mainstream U.S. Christianity has been "Orwellianized" in this country to the extent that it now encompasses "taking from the poor to enrich the wealthy", glorifying materialism and Mammon, and supporting a foreign policy set that kills people by the 10s of thousands, without cause, on the basis of outright lies. And more.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  12. izandroro

    stupid people shouldn't be given access to a bible.

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

      Then no one would have access to it LOL.

      May 28, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • geeky

      ...or a pulpit in a tax-exempt chuch to "suggest" to people how they should vote.

      May 29, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  13. GeorgeBos95

    Maybe we should follow his advice ... but put all the people like this pastor behind the electric fence.

    We don't need to "lay off your pastor" – he wants to voice his views, and we'll voice ours.

    Can't take the heat? Then STFU.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  14. UtahProf

    There is always a spectrum of feelings (love through hate) with ANYTHING in this life/world. Why, I wonder, is it only okay to LOVE gay people? Personally, I could care less what someone's personal orientation is – of course, I do HATE politicians and people who try and ram their beliefs down my throat.

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

      better known as christians.

      May 28, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  15. L. Shaw

    The law broken here is that this church is enjoying a tax exemption and is participating in politics. AKA BRAKING THE LAW!

    May 28, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  16. carlyjanew6


    May 28, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  17. Adam

    The protesters want brothers to be allowed to marry brothers, mothers their children, and a man to have as many wives as he desires.

    The pro-gay are on the wrong side of history.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Rick James

      Ironic that in North Carolina, you can marry your first cousin, but not your gay first cousin.

      And what a leap in logic you just had.Gay people just want equal rights. Everything else is just scare tactics.

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

      ... or maybe you don't have a clue what you're talking about.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • jaclyn

      Which protestor told you this? I can't imagine one of them wants to marry his brother or a mother wanting to marry her son. What an idiot you are. Did someone teach this to you or is this something you dreamed up? Get your facts straight. Or get them gay,,,but get FACTS. This is why people think people from your neck of the woods is full of inbred idiots.

      May 28, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      Adam, you can pull your thingy out of that sheep now.

      May 28, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      You can't fix stupid...but you can stun it with a two by four.

      May 28, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  18. Justus Cooya

    Just as gays have a legal right to practice their immoral and unnatural abhorrence, so does the straight brigade have the same right to express their views .As far as i can see, no laws were broken here.
    This freedom of expression is what makes our country great.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Rick James

      The straight brigade....never heard of it. And a law could've been broken in Worley's speech regarding political speech and tax-exemption.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  19. Rich

    The pastor is letting Satan speak through him.. plain and simple.. Wolf in sheep clothing.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  20. Lucas

    I went to that protest and I'm a Christian. I can't believe that pastor's remarks

    May 28, 2012 at 12:41 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.