NC Pastor Advocates Punching Possibly Gay Children, Church Laughs

By now many of you have heard at least a snippet of the sermon preached last Sunday by Sean Harris, pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, NC. As part of an initiative by, pastors were encouraged to preach marriage-related sermons and to specifically tell their congregations to vote for Amendment One.

Harris did that, preaching a sermon titled “Vote For Marriage: One Man. One Woman.” But Harris did not stop there, he went on to say that parents who perceive “effeminate” behavior in their sons should “punch” them, tell them to “man up,” and should “crack” their limp wrists (You can see the full hour-long sermon here). Harris has now come out and said that he “misspoke” and that it was a “joke.” To be fair, you can hear the congregation laughing in the audio of the sermon, but that says more to me about their lack of moral standing than it does that the pastor was joking.

Aside from the fact that I could detect no element of joking in this section of his sermon, the mere idea that one would joke about abusing a child because they do not fit rigid, socially-constructed gender roles is absolutely despicable. And, as far as I am concerned, every member of his congregation that laughed at his suggestion of child abuse is just as complicit in bigotry and supporting child abuse as is Sean Harris. Moreover, while Harris certainly does not represent everyone who is supporting Amendment One in NC (Billy Graham, for instance, and to my dismay, has come out in support of the amendment), his attitude does reflect an attitude and a worldview that must be pushed back against.

I am no longer a resident of NC, but I know that many of my followers and readers still are. I am urging you to vote against Amendment One and to shine the light on the likes of Sean Harris. It is people like Sean Harris that make me ashamed to have ever identified myself as a baptist. Now, I fully understand that there are plenty of baptist groups that would condemn (and have) Harris’ statements including the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Alliance of Baptists. There voice has remained on the sidelines for far to long and voices like Harris’, Richard Land’s, and Al Mohler’s have been allowed to dominate the discussion when it comes to “baptist” perspectives.

Aside from my conviction that the rights of a minority should absolutely never be put to a majority vote and that our country should have equality for all, including marriage equality, the proposed Amendment to the NC constitution does not make gay marriage illegal in NC (it already is). Instead, it only serves to try to make it more difficult to overturn in the future – something I am confident WILL happen – and by many accounts will have many adverse effects, from hurting NC’s ability to attract businesses (something it desperately needs help in right now) to possibly affecting the hospital visitation rights of state-recognized civil unions and even making it nearly impossible for unmarried people (especially women) to bring domestic violence charges against another.

I am quite passionate about equality, but I am even more passionate about helping people see the bigotry and harm that certain conservative Christians are espousing. If anything, instead of trying to amend the NC constitution to take away rights, North Carolinians should be fighting to increase the protection of everyone – men, women, and children – in their state.

Note: Here is an unbiased site with information about Amendment One with arguments for and against the measure.

3 thoughts on “NC Pastor Advocates Punching Possibly Gay Children, Church Laughs

  1. I haven’t heard Sean Harris’ remarks, and if I’m being honest, I don’t want to. Listening to bigots is bad enough, but when they purport to serve the same God I do, it just makes me nauseous.

    Last I heard, Amendment One is expected to pass with around 57% of the vote. I, for one, will be voting against, mostly for political reasons. I don’t think government has any business in marriage – gay, straight or otherwise. I don’t know the implications of the amendment on domestic disputes, but my friends that are lawyers say it won’t change anything, and that stands to reason; no laws are being changed, and as it stands: violence is violence, irrespective of marriage or sexual orientation.

    What I notice among Christians seems mostly to be a generational gap. My parents generation seems overwhelmingly for “one man, one woman” while my generation seems to be largely “live and let live.” I agree that with time we will see the laws changed to reflect the newer generation’s view, but now the tide seems stagnant.

    For my part, I will continue nudging the Right in the direction they ought to move, perhaps with rhetoric such as this: I’m a fan of the Constitution; especially the part that says government can’t do for one, what it’s unwilling to do for another. We call it the Equal Protection Clause, and its one of the reasons I like living here.

  2. A wonderful, thoughtful and heartfelt commentary that I support completely. I agree with you and Ryan and my passion lies in the violence against anyone, particularly children so this boils my blood. I can not support bigotry in any form and so much of the conversations clearly lead to that stance. A very sad display of ignorance.

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