May 31st, 2012
05:17 AM ET

Church videos with harsh words for gays go viral online

By Richard Allen Greene and Dan Gilgoff, CNN

First it was a Christian pastor in North Carolina who told his congregation on Mother's Day that the way "to get rid of all the lesbians and queers" was to put them behind an electric fence and wait for them to die out.

That video went viral, fetching more than a million views on YouTube.

On Sunday, Pastor Curtis Knapp of Kansas preached that the government should kill homosexuals, in another videotaped sermon that drew lots of online attention.

"They won't, but they should," Knapp said, according to a recording of his sermon posted online.

Since that sermon, another church video with harsh words for gays has caught fire online. This one shows a young boy singing an anti-gay song while the congregation cheers him on in what appears to be a church in Indiana.

"I know the Bible’s right, somebody’s wrong,” the boy sings near the pulpit of a church. “Ain't no homos gonna make it to heaven."

As the boy repeats the line “Ain't no homos gonna make it to heaven," congregants from the pews rise and cheer.

The video, which was anonymously posted online and has received more than 300,000 views on YouTube, appears to show a service at the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle Church in Greensburg, Indiana.

Calls to the church this week went to voicemail, with an automatic message saying the mailbox is full. But a message posted on the church’s website on Wednesday appears to address the controversy, offering no apology for the video.

“The Pastor and members of Apostolic Truth Tabernacle do not condone, teach, or practice hate of any person for any reason. We believe and hope that every person can find true Bible salvation and the mercy and grace of God in their lives,” the statement says.

“We are a strong advocate of the family unit according to the teachings and precepts found in the Holy Bible,” said the statement, which did not explicitly refer to the video or mention homosexuality. “We believe the Holy Bible is the Divinely-inspired Word of God and we will continue to uphold and preach that which is found in scripture.”

The viral videos have drawn criticism from gay and lesbian groups and their allies.

Charles Worley’s sermon at Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, North Carolina, sparked a protest that drew more than 1,500 people last weekend.

In Kansas, Knapp's voicemail at the New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca was filled with messages saying "things you don't want your kids to hear," he told CNN affiliate KTKA.

An official with the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists issued a statement to CNN on Thursday saying that Knapp’s church had left the Southern Baptist fold in 2010.

“Obviously, he has taken a radical and unbiblical stand in regards to homosexuality,” said Tim Boyd, communications director for the convention.

“We look at homosexuals as we look at all sinners,” his statement said. “God loves them. Christ died for them. The Gospel calls them to repentance and salvation. Therefore, we as Christ-followers should hate the sin and love the sinner.”

But Knapp is not backing away from his comments.

"We punish pedophilia. We punish incest. We punish polygamy and various things. It's only homosexuality that is lifted out as an exemption," he said.

He cited the Biblical verse Leviticus 20:13: "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act. They shall surely be put to death."

But he said gay people had nothing to worry about from the government or from him.

"I don't believe I should lay a finger against them," said Knapp, of New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, Kansas. "My hope is for their salvation, not for their death."

Preaching against homosexuality the same day, another pastor appeared to wrestle with how conservative Christians should respond to proposals that people should literally mete out biblical punishments.

"What about this guy down in North Carolina said build a big prison, a big fence and put them all in there and let them die out?" Dennis Leatherman asked in a sermon at the Mountain Lake Independent Baptist Church in Maryland.

"Listen, I don't know that fellow. As far as I can tell, he seems like a decent guy, but he is dead wrong on that. That is not the scriptural response," Leatherman said in his sermon "Homosexuality & the Bible," according to a cached version of the transcript posted online.

The audio of the sermon does not appear on his church's website.

In the sermon, he floats the idea of killing homosexuals, whom he refers to as sodomites, then backs away from it.

"There is a danger of reacting in the flesh, of responding not in a scriptural, spiritual way, but in a fleshly way. Kill them all. Right? I will be very honest with you. My flesh kind of likes that idea," Leatherman said.

"But it grieves the Holy Spirit. It violates Scripture. It is wrong," he added immediately.

The Southern Baptist Convention distanced itself from Worley's remarks.

The nation's largest Baptist group said Providence Road Baptist in Maiden is not affiliated with its 16 million-member denomination and condemned the comments.

But the influential head of the giant movement's seminary does argue that homosexuality "is the most pressing moral question of our times."

In a comment piece for the Belief Blog in the wake of Worley's sermon, R. Albert Mohler Jr. dismissed critics who say conservative Christians focus on homosexuality while ignoring other things the Bible prohibits.

He contends that laws about keeping kosher, for example, do not apply to Christians, while commandments about homosexuality do.

"When it comes to homosexuality, the Bible's teaching is consistent, pervasive, uniform and set within a larger context of law and Gospel," he wrote.

"Christians who are seriously committed to the authority of the Bible have no choice but to affirm all that the Bible teaches, including its condemnation of homosexuality," he said.

A member of Worley's 300-member church defended him in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper.

"Of course he would never want that to be done," Stacey Pritchard said of the proposal to put homosexuals behind a fence and leave them there to die out. "But I agree with what the sermon was and what it was about."

CNN Belief Blog co-editor Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Homosexuality

soundoff (4,073 Responses)
  1. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    This world is full of inferiors and sinners: minorities, women, gays and lesbians, etc! So my message to all you rightwing religious christian conservatives lunatics is if you truly wish to get as far away from the rest of us as possible, the easiest way to achieve your goal is to gather your congregation and drink a whole lot of Kool-Aid and leave this sinful world to us sinners! So long suckers!

    May 31, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • ProperVillain

      Or build a community of like minded people that are segregated by an electric fence and air dropped food every few months;)

      May 31, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  2. dowdotica

    ...preached that the government should kill gay people? sounds kind of like Hitler saying kill the jews. Where on God's green earth did we go so wrong and why do "we" have to tolerate such ig-nant thinking?

    May 31, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  3. Virginia

    If everyone who 'sinned' were put behind an electric fence; there wouldn't be anyone left to pay the electric bill.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  4. steve

    No the faithful must wrestle with what the Bible tells them. There is conflict in there faith. The Bible tells them god is loving and caring of all his children except for the gay ones , which he calls for them to be put to death. Just for the record god didn't write the bible, it was someone that is just as bigoted as this North Carolina pasture that lived more than a thousand year ago.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  5. ikarus

    he is only picking the ones he likes. the bible encourages murder for many different reasons. He is not supposed to pick and choose either obey all or none.

    Death for fornication Leviticus 21:9,
    death to cursing children Leviticus 20:9,
    Kill People Who Don't Listen to Priests Deuteronomy 17:12,
    Death to Followers of Other Religions Exodus 22:19,
    Kill Nonbelievers Chronicles 15:12,
    Kill the Entire Town if One Person Worships Another God Deuteronomy 13:13,
    Kill Women Who Are Not Virgins On Their Wedding Night Deuteronomy 22:20,
    Kill People for Working on the Sabbath Exodus 31:12,
    Kill Sons of Sinners Isaiah 14:21 ETC ETC, I could go all day

    May 31, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • GunnerGA

      BUT... kill a fetus, pay a fine. NOT death! Translation – Abortion is NOT murder as a fetus is NOT a life worthy of the same laws after birth. - Exodus 21:22

      May 31, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Barn

      You don't even have to bounce around the Bible. Read the rest of Leviticus 20, which this dude cites. DEATH is the punishment for adultery and for "anyone who curses their father or mother" among other crimes. touching even your own wife during her "time o' the month" means you should be cast out from the tribe.

      Where is this guy's condemnations and calls for death for the other laws right there on the SAME page? In the SAME book and SAME chapter?

      May 31, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  6. iminim

    I have to wonder how many houses of worship preached against hate and about acceptance and love this week, yet those messages were not posted on CNN. Face it, hate and ugliness sell ads, draw readers, and produce comments. That is why these hate-mongers get the press. Once they get publicity it inspires other hate-mongers to grab for their 5 minutes of fame by saying something even more outlandish. And so the hate speech grows. In reality, these pastors are just feeding their own egos by seeing how many people will respond to them. For some people, bad attention is better than no attention. It is time for the press to quit feeding the frenzy, stop putting their little videos on a major website, and deprive them of the notoriety they seek. Relegate these preachers to the fringes of the internet world where they belong.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • ernestly

      This is exactly right. They want attention, exposure.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  7. Steph

    It is also funny that the age of a "wife" isn't mentioned in Leviticus. My guess is back then "wives" were young girls, AND they didn't have much say when it came to marriage or as Leviticus states so eloquently the choice of "a man who lies down with her".

    May 31, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  8. Aashen

    This pastor does realize Christians were released from Levitican law by Jesus, rendering Leviticus outdated and irrelevant, right? Sounds to me like someone needs to finish reading his bible rather than cherry picking the bits that advance his bigoted agenda.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • n8362

      In Matthew 5:17-19 Christ makes it very clear that the Mosaic Laws are to be upheld.

      Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • ProperVillain

      So have you stopped eating lobster? Does you wife not do any work during her "monthly time"? Do you avoid work on the sabbath? Do you throw rocks at your kids when they disobey you? If you want to uphold one part of the law as something to follow you need to follow the whole of it.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Barn

      @n8362: "Christ makes it very clear that the Mosaic Laws are to be upheld."

      I can quote verses that say the opposite, where he calls for an end to blood sacrifices and essentially declares all food clean to be eaten. That's the fun part of the Bible, you can find a line to support anything you want to believe. It's woefully inconsistent.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  9. rockysfan

    I would love to be a fly on the pearly gates when this POS comes before St Peter. Can you spell H E L L ? If he can't, he will learn. What a pathetic excuse for a human being let alone a preacher of God! What are you so afraid of? Afraid you are attracted to men and do not want to admit it? I bet that's your issue!

    May 31, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Evelyn

      right now about 100 to 150 tweets a mitnue are happening on the two primary hash tags for this event but still not showing as a trending topic at all on Twitter. Really wondering if twitter can still be used to coordinate protests or if this is just an arbitration that twitter will respond to.

      September 6, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  10. Paul


    Do not throw pearls of wisdom, to swine...

    May 31, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  11. Uncle Spooge

    The story goes that Jesus death made all the BS rules in Leviticus null and void. They were seen as unobtainable rules that make every human a sinner so... he died for our sins. Its all just stories written by people from so long ago that their words can only be applied in the most general terms....

    May 31, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  12. MariaC

    His name is Leatherman?

    May 31, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  13. Byron

    This pastor, from this interview, sounds like a giant coward who is trying to hide his hate behind his religion. Also, this dude seems a little gay to me.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  14. whip out your sign


    May 31, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  15. jorge

    HEY churchie, why dont you just have the church KILL them. You fought so hard to seperate church and State and NOW you want the government to the job you dont want to do? COME ON FREAKS.

    May 31, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  16. TPN51

    Send you comments and opinions directly to the Southern Baptist Convention about these ridiculous preachers .

    sbc.net scroll to "Convention Communications and Relations" Post a comment.

    May 31, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  17. Richard

    Does anyone believe this guy is a democrat or a republican?

    May 31, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • TPN51

      I think this guy is so far left or right either party would claim. Maybe the Skin Head Party, or KKK Party but that all.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  18. MyTake

    Why focus on hateful people like this. Let them say and preach what they want. I don't agree but unless he is rounding up a posse or provably inciting people to violence then just ignore them. They are wrong but you will never convenience them of that.

    May 31, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • Barn

      Because exposing this sort of hyperbolic vitriol shows how dangerous they are. No, you won't convince them they are wrong, but this dude has 300 people in his congregation, many of whom may realize how ignorant and wrong speech like this is when it is called out and highlighted.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  19. SensibleJoe

    Curtis Knapp and his ilk can call themselves "Christians" and "pastors" all they want, but their behavior proves they are neither. Christians don't call to put other people to death. They remember and follow the example of Jesus Christ, who went out of his way to protect an adulterous woman from being stoned to death, though the mob out to lynch her claimed the Bible as their legal and religious authority to put her to death vigilante-style (John 8:2-11). Knapp is just stirring up hate and dehumanizing other people, which some might use as an excuse to hurt or kill them.

    May 31, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  20. james pfeiffer

    The blathering idiocy of this small minded pitiable man is extraordinary. The fact is, that for everyone of these self-appointed Christian zeolots, there are the ignorant sheep that follow them without question, or without objective intelligence. It is these hate preachers, along with their sad fearful little flocks, that truly threaten civility, peace and compassion. They are no different than any fundamentalist, extremist religions that are popping up left and right around the world. As people become more fearful and less tolerant by using a perverted interpretation of (any) religion to smugly justify their own little worlds we are, in fact, moving away from creating a more loving and livable planet. To use religion to call for people's deaths is a sinful and dangerous perversion. This creepy religious pervert should be called to question!

    May 31, 2012 at 12:58 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.