Local News

Fayetteville church stands behind pastor after anti-gay sermon

Posted May 6, 2012 7:18 p.m. EDT
Updated May 7, 2012 5:54 a.m. EDT

— It was Sunday as usual at Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville after video of a pastor's controversial sermon last week went viral on the Internet, prompting hate mail and death threats against the church.

"That clip was out of context and didn't give the whole flavor of the sermon," church member Mary Depina said Sunday.

Last Sunday, in a sermon designed to encourage the congregation to vote in favor of Amendment One, Rev. Sean Harris told fathers to "crack that wrist" and "give him a good punch" if their sons start acting effeminate.

"Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist," he said. "Man up – give him a good punch."

Later in the sermon, he added, "when your daughter starts acting too butch, you reign her in."

The amendment would make marriage between one man and one woman the only legal domestic union in the state.  

About 75 protesters rallied down the street from the church Sunday, carrying signs saying, "No child is a punching bag" and  "Who would Jesus punch?"

Police officers were called in as extra security at the church Sunday, but the protest ended peacefully.

"This is not just a religious issue or a gay rights issue. This is about what sort of language is appropriate for our children," said protester Micah Royal, who is a member of the Progressive Christian Alliance.

Depina said Harris was simply offering advice on what she called "harmful behavior."

"Well, the limp wrist may not be, but engaging in effeminate behavior and engaging in homosexual activity is," she said.

Harris told WRAL News earlier this week that he would never advocate child abuse and that his remarks were an off-the-cuff joke that have been taken out of context. He stands behind the message of his sermon because the Bible "makes no compromising for effeminate behavior," he said Wednesday.