Pastor Sean Harris of the Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina, is claiming he misspoke when he told parishioners to “give a good punch” to their effeminate sons during a sermon on Sunday.
In his homophobic homily, Harris gave parents “a special dispensation” to “squash like a cockroach” any gay tendencies in their boys:
“Can I make it any clearer? Dads, the second you see that son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give them a good punch. Okay? You’re not going to act like that—you were made by God to be a male and you’re going to be a male.”
He went on to tell his flock that, if a four-year old boy, for example, starts acting “a little girlish,” his father should tell him to “man up, son, get that dress off you get outside and dig a ditch—because that’s what boys do.”
Seriously? When we were four, most boys were playing tag and watching episodes of Sesame Street. Not a lot of ditch-digging going on.
His advise for parents of tomboys was less violent but equally abhorrent:
“And when your daughter starts acting too ‘butch,’ you rein her in. And you say, ‘Oh no. Oh no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play ‘em, play ‘em to the glory of God, but sometimes you’re going to act like a girl and talk like a girl and talk like a girl, and smell like a girl, and that means you’re going to be beautiful, you’re going to be attractive, you’re going to dress yourself up’.”
When the media jumped on Harris’ hate speech, though, he changed his tune tout suite. He told The Fayetteville Observer:
If I had to say it again, I would say it differently, no doubt. 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.”
We understand—it’s not like it’s Harris’ job to give a well-considered speech on spirituality and morals every Sunday.
Harris was speaking in favor of North Carolina’s Amendment One, which would ban recognition of same-sex marriages, domestic partnerships, civil unions and any relationship outside of heterosexual marriage. He told the Observer that though the Bible makes it clear homosexuality is a sin, there was “not an ounce of hate being communicated,” in his sermon. Oh, of course not.
What we want to know is if Harris can be brought up on charges. He literally incited his listeners to inflict bodily harm on four-year-olds. If we stood on a street corner and made similar suggestions, we’d probably have to answer to the cops. Why should Harris be protected because he was standing at a (bully) pulpit?
To make matters worse, Berean Baptist Church operates a school from kindergarten to 12th grade. Harris swears teachers at the Berean Baptist Academy never lay hands on the students, but after Sunday’s rant, we think social services or the Department of Education should start sniffing around.
has a code of parental discipline on its website, supported by biblical references, that endorses spanking but adds that “we reject the idea that bruising is ever the objective when disciplining a child.”
If you have the stomach for such things, Good as You has the full audio of Harris’ sermon.