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. evil and scary

    He is no better than those belonging to the Westboro Baptist Church. Hate is hate....and it's not holy....no matter how you want to spin it.

    May 28, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  2. MisterLundy

    and I am sure all the owners of restaurants, gas stations and motels near Maiden, North Carolina could not be more thankful to Pastor Worley for the business he brought to town with 1500 visitors. They probably would love for him to keep saying stupid stuff like that every week from now on.

    May 28, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • grumpymedic

      Do they serve tumbleweed soup?

      May 28, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  3. DSI

    It's an old argument but:
    1. If god is all knowing, he/she knows prior to creation whether a human is or is not destined for hell
    2. If god is all powerful, he/she has the ability to intervene and save said human from hell
    3. If god is all loving, he/she will intervene to save each and every human from a torturous destiny.

    Which is not true? 1, 2, or 3?

    May 28, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • LiberaLIowan

      I was wondering about a black cat walking under a ladder though.

      May 28, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • LiberaLIowan


      Don't end a sentence with a preposition.

      May 28, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • DSI

      Ending a sentence with a preposition is grammatically correct, just considered bad form. Since this is not an academic essay, I'll break with convention of form

      May 28, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Tired of Christian Lies

      All 3 are not true for the simple fact that god does not exist. Quit looking for some imaginary being for answers and try to live by your own rules and standards.

      May 28, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • LiberaLIowan

      Thanks for the pass, DSI.

      May 28, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • grumpymedic

      Actually, I like Bill Maher's take: "Three candidates said God told them they should run for president. Doesn't that means he's messing with at least 2 of them?"

      May 28, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Lunias

      Assumption 3 is based on faulty logic, which is "If you love something, then you protect it at any cost". When I turned 18, my parents already knew they would have to let me go. Even if they love me with all their hearts, they have to let me experience life and make my own mistakes. That's part of the deal.

      May 28, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • DSI

      So your parents would not have protected you if they knew with absolute certainty that you were setting yourself up for a huge amount of suffering?

      May 28, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • DSI

      A few people have tried, to no avail, to explain to me why god would create someone that he knows with absolute certainty is bound for hell. I would love to know what the logical answer is.

      May 28, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • DB

      Premise 3 is almost true. Change "will intervene" to "has intervened" and you've got it.

      In case there is any confusion, that intervention's name is Jesus.

      May 28, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  4. JrzWorld

    Welcome to America, Pastor Worley. You have every right to publicly promote whatever repellant views you choose to espouse. But so do all the people who think you're a mean-spirited, morally corrupt ignoramus – right at your doorstep.

    May 28, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  5. LiberaLIowan

    Let me bottom-line it for you. With all the suffering going on in the world, your god either s u c k s at his job or doesn't exist. Either way, you are wasting your time praying to a non-existent loser.

    May 28, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • grumpymedic

      No kidding. If THIS is the best kind of world that God, the ALL-mighty, ALL-powerful and PERFECT God who wants to have Heaven on Earth can come up with, he's done a crappy job. I wouldn't even hire him as a day temp.

      May 28, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Rick James

      That's a good point. If he worked for me and this was the best he could do, he would be fired without a second thought.

      May 28, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • l.d.hugh

      Christ said " I did not come into the world to bring pease but a soward".

      May 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Lunias

      Technically, you cannot even prove to other people that you exist (search "Solipsism" on the internet), so there's no point to the whole argument in the first place. Believe what you want to believe, but don't think for one second that you understand how the universe works.

      May 28, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • HaveAgoodMemorialDay

      Maybe if you weren't so ignorant and read the bible then you would understand where he is coming from. But, instead you sit there in your high place making these assumptions.

      Ignorance – The state or fact of being ignorant; lack of knowledge, learning, information, etc.

      Let me bottom-line it for you. With all the suffering going on in the world. You aren't doing your job as 1. a human 2. an American 3. setting a good example. How about you instead stopping bashing on others and look in the mirror.

      May 28, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • LiberaLIowan


      I'm already happy with what I'm doing. I don't need any validation from anyone, (or anything) else.

      May 28, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Derigible

      I like what George Carlin had to say about God.

      If God is so perfect,
      why is it, that everything he creates......Dies ?

      May 28, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • LiberaLIowan


      Believe what you want to believe, but don't think for one second that you understand how the universe works.

      I don't understand how the universe works yet, but I watch it on television every week. I should know by the end of the season.

      May 28, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • DB

      So, does the persistence of suffering negate the existence of God? That argument might work if the totality of human experience was suffering. But what about the persistence of good, of pleasure, of happiness? You say that evil negates God, but I say that good confirms him. The arguments essentially cancel each other out. You need a narrative that accounts for both realities. The Christian narrative does that. The atheist narrative does not.

      May 28, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  6. grumpymedic

    Whaddya know...another fat, white, rich, old conservative Christian male with a big mouth and a tiny brain. Like so many other angry Republicans. No surprise here. Some day, a gay Paramedic, doctor, nurse, cop or firefighter is going to recognize him and question whether this moron's life is worth saving. But, of course, they WILL do it, because-unlike him-they're not a selfish, bigoted jerk whose only motivation in life besides money is to denigrate others just to make himself feel and look good.

    May 28, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Too true.
      People like you may be motivated by their faith to do good works, but thankfully that same faith doesn't preclude helping "heathens".
      In my opinion, the best charities in the world are Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross – both of which are secular.

      May 28, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  7. DSI

    I was engaged to a woman who I never married because her priest told her that if she divorced her abusive husband, who by the way threatened my life, she would be excommunicated and her children would be illegitimate in the eyes of god. That was about all I could take. I bailed.

    May 28, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Rick James

      Sorry that happened to you. Religion can be used to justify any sort of wrong because to Bible tells them so. Sometimes I wonder if we really are in the 21st century with religion still in the mix.

      May 28, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      My parents are of different Christian denominations (Catholic and Protestant) and neither of the clergy who had known them all their lives would perform their wedding ceremony. My mother's pastor actually told her the relationship was doomed to failure becuase if the insurmountable religious differences and the Catholic priest balked when my father refused to promise to raise their future children Cathlic.
      40 years later, they're still happily married.

      May 28, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • DSI

      Really? How could someone who transmits the infallible word of god make such an error?

      May 28, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Derigible

      My Mother went to the priest who married my parents
      and told him that my father had cheated on her and beats her often.
      The priest told her that "you married for better or worse".
      Go home to your husband.
      My mother left my father, and the church.
      Smart woman.

      May 28, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  8. Edwardo

    This pastor says gay people can't reproduce. I know lots of gay people who have reproduced. I've met numerous gay people who made babies with women. Gays aren't sterile... dip-stik pastor! Heck, I personally know a guy who was once with a woman, had 2 kids, they divorced... now he's with dudes. Saying gays can't reproduce, makes this pastor a blatant liar !!

    May 28, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Dorothy

      Or just stupid.....which I think he has already proven beyond any reason of a doubt......just by the way he talks.

      May 28, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • joe

      Right. Statistically, most gay people are married at some point in their lives and many of those who do marry have children.

      May 28, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • grumpymedic

      You show me one guy who says gays can't reproduce and I'll show you a guy who flunked school before he got a chance to reach fifth grade.

      May 28, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  9. Jules

    Is anyone here surprised that this lunatic preacher is endorsing Romney?

    May 28, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Drew

      Kind of. Romney has been fairly gay friendly in the past. And he's a Mormon. But then again, this man probably believes that Obama is the anti-christ

      May 28, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  10. Adam

    "Some church members, who declined to give their names, said his words had been taken out of context."

    Uh, his ENTIRE hate filled speech is all over the net. It literally cannot be taken out of context. All the context is there.

    May 28, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Drew

      These people don't understand context, they can barely read

      May 28, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  11. Jessica

    I used to be a Christian fundamentalist.

    They are incredibly hateful and hypocritical people.

    It's a mental illness.

    There is a cure though.

    It's called using your God-given gift of reason.

    May 28, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Adam

      There is a better cure. Reject magic sky wizards as the falsehoods they are, and embrace logic.

      May 28, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Jules

      Adam One step at a time.

      May 28, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • grumpymedic

      Right on! Yep, I was a "Holy Roller" myself. I can't believe the amount of divisiveness, exclusionism and hatred promoted by religions. Sad, really, because they DO promote some good values that aren't necessarily Bible-driven.

      May 28, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  12. Colin

    Ten Ways You Know you are an Atheist.

    1. You were likely brought up a theist (probably a Jew or Christian if you live in the USA) and had to do your own thinking to rise above the beliefs that still occupy the mind of the believer. This usually involved being smart and working hard at school and college so as to get a good, accurate view of the natural Universe and overcoming significant social pressure to dumb yourself down and conform. In short, you had the guts to ask the hard questions and the brains to spot the weak answers. The more you came to understand the Universe, the less reason there was to believe in a god and the more you came to understand human nature, the more you understood why billions of us still do.

    2. While rejecting the supernatural elements of the Bible, you nevertheless retain a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Christianity. To the extent you reject Christian morality, it is where it is mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, your basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Christian – you just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over your head in order to act in a manner that you consider moral.

    3. You know a great deal more about the Bible than most believers. This is because you took the time to read it yourself and did not rely on the primary-color simple stories you learned in Sunday school. You have also probably done some research into the historical Jesus and have a good handle on where he REALLY fit in to the broader picture of the Middle East at the time. Needless to say, his miracles and other magic powers soon started to look pretty unlikely.

    4. Your knowledge of basic science and history is much stronger than that of your average believer. You likely have a basic working knowledge of physics, astronomy, evolutionary biology and cosmology and a good idea of the history of life on this planet. This acc.umulated knowledge puts you in a position to judge the claims of the Bible in a critical light and they are almost always found wanting. To the theist, this makes you “elitist” and ‘arrogant”.

    5. You relish your role as a religious minority in the USA, as this gives you an impetus to fight and you understand how others with unpopular, but doubtlessly correct views have felt throughout history. There is something altogether satisfying to you about having a deep conviction you are right and being viewed with disdain for your views by the errant majority. You feel a quiet confidence that future generations will look back on you as a member of a class of trailblazers, as religious supersti.tions go into inevitable decline in popularity.

    6. You are likely more environmentally aware than your theist friends and colleagues and unlikely to fall for claims of industry and wind-bag politicians concerning the impact of man’s activities on the environment. You could no more act in an environmentally irresponsible manner because “god will keep us safe” than you could jump off a ship, believing King Neptune will keep you safe.

    7. You generally have a live and let live atti.tude, but will fiercely defend any attempts by theists to thrust their views on you or your children, directly or through control of school boards, the legislature or the executive. While you are prepared to debate and argue passionately with the theist on an intellectual level, you would never wish them harm or ill will. You know you are likely to be smugly told you will “burn in hell for all eternity” for your healthy skepticism. This highlights what you despise about religion, as you would not wish a bad sunburn on another, simply because they have a different religious view to you. You have never heard of an evolutionary biologist strapping a bomb to himself and running into a church yelling “Darwin-u akbar, Darwin-u akbar”.

    8. You likely know more about other religions than your average theist. This makes you less fearful of them and enables you to see parallels. You realize that, if you were born in India, you would have been brought up with a totally different religion. You realize that every culture that has ever existed has had its own god(s) and they always favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams and prejudices. They cannot all exist and you see the error all faiths make of thinking only theirs exist(s). This “rising above” the regional nature of all religions was probably instrumental in your achieving atheism.

    9. You likely have a deep, genuine appreciation of the fathomless beauty and unbelievable complexity of our Universe, from the 4 nucleotides that orchestrate every aspect of you, through to the distant quasars, without having to think it was all made for you. You likely get more out of being the irrelevant ant staring up at the cosmos than you do in having to pretend that it was all made to turn in majestic black-and-white pirouette about you.

    10. While you have a survival instinct, you cannot fear death in the way the theist does. You know that the whole final judgment story, where you may be sent to hell if you fail, is Dark Ages nonsense meant to keep the Church’s authority. You also know that you were dead for 13,720,000,000 years before you were born. It is impossible for you to fear death, for the simple reason that you know the capacity to fell pain, or to regret or fear itself dies. You will not even know you are dead. Fear of death is as meaningless to you as is the fear of a vacuum, the fear of not being born. You feel a lot more secure, and indeed a deep comfort, in this knowledge, than you would in trying to yoke yourself to some quasi-hope from Bronze Age Palestine that every part of your intellect tells you is untenable.

    May 28, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Michael Murphy

      Seems logical to me, now if we could only get the Republican Party to read it and use what ever intelligence they have, we might actually get something done and go along way to solving any deficit problems by taxing CHURCHES as businesses and stop this stupid argument that someone is anti faith or against the first amendment.

      May 28, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • HenryB

      Well said, Colin, well said.

      May 28, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • lindaluttrell

      Although we've never met, sounds like you're describing me perfectly! It took me 40 long, hard, disillousioned years to realize this. BRAVO!

      May 28, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Lunias

      You say that atheists are more accepting of religions and more likely to understand them. You say that atheists are morally straight more often than theists. When will your very own points be applied to how you treat theists? You basically just called "most theists" all unreasonable, illogical and uneducated dullards. Please, stop pretending to be this nice, reasonable person; your words betray your thoughts.

      May 28, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Robert Niehaus

      I agree and would like to add to that my Beef! This clown gets to live in my Country tax free because of his stupid beliefs! Why isn't his church considered a hate group like the Nazis? Religion is on its deathbed thanks to bozos like this moron!

      May 28, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      @Robert Niehaus: Maybe not tax free for much longer. He violated the separation of church and state when he preached to his congregation that he would not be voting for Obama. Just hope that the IRS investigates his bigoted ass and makes him pay.

      May 28, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Breanna

      So you took the time to type out a big long message (or copied and pasted someone else's words without citing them) about atheism on a page that has nothing to do with it, self-righteously pointing out the flaws in another system while ignoring your own. You're the reason I became the "I don't care, ask me when I'm dead" brand of agnostic. Because until you're dead, what happens to you upon death shouldn't matter. Live life, and for the love of all that is good, shut up about which side is better.

      May 28, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  13. Frank

    Christians have been making Christ look bad for 2,000 years.

    May 28, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  14. DSI

    There are several christians in my family; 3 alcoholics, 4 child abusers, one adulterer, and 2 that are actually decent people. There are several atheists in my family and all but one are successful, happy, and charitable

    May 28, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Colin

      Atheists develop their own morality. They don't have to be told how to be moral, based on Bronze Age Middle Eastern mythology.

      May 28, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Lunias

      Obviously, that means that Christians are more immoral in general than atheists. Well, not exactly. I know plenty of theists and atheists alike who are rude, self-centered and hurtful people. I also know plenty of theists and atheists who are genuinely nice, helpful human beings. Your personal experience says nothing about either group as a whole.

      May 28, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • DSI

      My personal experience is just that. I made no other inference in this post

      May 28, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  15. Ames

    The preacher is clearly endorsing Romney.

    Looks like Romney's got all of the crazies on his side.

    May 28, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  16. Jason

    Don't know why anyone is surprised about this.

    This tea bagger preacher was just saying what all of them are thinking.

    May 28, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    May 28, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Cedar rapids

      like rain dances change the weather.

      May 28, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Drew

      If you think prayer works, you've just gotta try human sacrifice

      May 28, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Steve - Dallas

      No, it doesn't.

      May 28, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Jataka

      Other living things? What the hell are you even talking about? You're an idiot. Life is a chance in the vast infinite universe where undoubtedly other intelligent life exist, but you probably believe the sun revolves around the earth right?

      May 28, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Lunias

      There is no conclusive proof that either atheism is more or less healthy than theism. Your statement is invalid.

      May 28, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  18. Dorothy

    Well I hope the people of NC realize that their recent vote against gay marriage just reinforced the lunacy and bigotry of this kind of religious zealot. If we learned nothing else from 911 we should have learned that religious zealotry is hateful and destructive and has no place in the USA. Please note.....not all religious people are zealots.

    May 28, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Tom

      Dorothy, you are correct. The educated religious people know better. Those smart enough to read the Bible and connect the dots....

      May 28, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Hitchens

      Not all religious people will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Get to know Dot here it does not sound like you will get a chance to know her there.

      May 28, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Dorothy

      Sadly, Hetchena, I think you are right.....but for the wrong reason. I doubt if any of the religious zealots will be getting through the pearly gates.......their message is one of hate, death, and destruction.....which is hardly the message of God.

      May 28, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  19. pervert alert

    Stand and decry the sin of beers
    Stand and absolve of all lives fears
    Stand and countenance all mans tears
    But never, ever
    Mention qu-eers

    May 28, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  20. Tom

    God put me here. There is no evil spirit working through me. If there is an evil spirit working anywhere, it's working in the weak and wounded – the haters, the one who wish to divide. God gave me life. He would not give me a life and then say that I cannot live the life he has given to me. Shame on those who spew hatred and intolerance for you have blood on your hands!

    May 28, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Drew

      Am i obligated to tolerate intolerance?

      May 28, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • tallulah13

      So what you are saying, Tom, is that you reject the words of this pastor and those who support him? Good for you. All decent people should reject this sort of mindless hatred.

      May 28, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      The Easter bunny is knocking on your door.

      May 28, 2012 at 4:27 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.