Pastor Sean Harris, who railed against homosexuality and told parents during Sunday’s service that they should beat their four-year old boys who showed any signs of being gay, now claims he was only joking. The senior pastor and administrator of a 400-student school, Berean Baptist Academy, at the Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina, was speaking in favor of North Carolina’s anti-gay Amendment One.
LISTEN to Pastor Harris’ Sermon in: “Anti-Gay Pastor: Parents Must ‘Squash Like A Cockroach’ The Gay Out Of Kids“
Pastor Sean Harris derided parents who don’t “squash like a cockroach” the gay out of their children, told parents they are “authorized,” and that he was “giving them a special dispensation” to attack their children by giving them “a good punch.” Harris told parents, if their four-year old boy, for example, “starts acting a little ‘girlish’,” to “crack that wrist.” Harris added that parents should tell their four-year olds to “man up, son, get that dress off you get outside and dig a ditch because that’s what boys do.”
But now that the audio of Sunday’s sermon has gone viral, Pastor Harris is claiming he was only joking, would never even touch a child, “would never ever advocate” hitting a child, and says his parishioners — many of whom shouted “Amen!” when Harris said to punch a four-year old – know he would never advocate child abuse.
Harris also claims there was ”not an ounce of hate being communicated” in his remarks in church on Sunday, focused on the evils of homosexuality in hopes of ensuring parishioners vote for North Carolina’s Amendment One, which would write anti-gay discrimination directly into the constitution, and would define as the only legal relationship a marriage between one man and one woman. Amendment One would also immediately make domestic violence victims ineligible for protection orders and would even remove children from their unmarried parents’ health insurance.
“But he defended his belief in the need to reinforce traditional gender roles in children,” the Fayetteville Observer reported this morning:
“If I had to say it again, I would say it differently, no doubt,” Harris said Tuesday. “Those weren’t planned words, but what I do stand by is that the word of God makes it clear that effeminate behavior is ungodly. I’m not going to compromise on that.”
The Pastor, who offered neither chapter nor verse, may be mistaken on that part as well.
The Fayetteville Observer, which noted that Harris, speaking about same-sex couples, “said in the sermon that such couples live together ‘in the most sick and ungodly way’,” adds:
“I feel like we have our very own Westboro Baptist Church right here in Fayetteville,” said Storm Silvermane, president of the Alliance, an advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people in the Sandhills.
Silvermane was referencing the church that pickets soldier funerals with signs calling their deaths America’s punishment for tolerating homosexuality.
Advocates for children were unimpressed, too.
“We do not condone any violence against children by anyone,” said Roberta Humphries, executive director of Fayetteville’s Child Advocacy Center.
“We know that children thrive when they grow up in safe, stable, nurturing relationships,” said Rosie Allen Ryan, president of the nonprofit Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina. “Unfortunately, this pastor is telling his congregation to harm their children. We know that when children are fearful and feel unsafe, that they’re far more likely to suffer emotionally, socially and physically.”
After listening to the sermon Tuesday, a divinity professor at Campbell University called it “one of the most disappointing and un-Christ-like diatribes I have ever heard.”
“I would not dishonor the word ‘sermon’ by identifying it as such,” said Tony Cartledge, who teaches Old Testament at Campbell, a Baptist university in Harnett County.
Hat-tip to Jeremy Hooper at Good As You.
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