North Carolina Pastor Jokes About Physically Abusing ‘Effeminate’ Boys

Sean Harris is the senior pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

He’s in the news because of a sermon he delivered in conjunction with “Marriage Sunday,” an initiative intended to get out the vote for a proposed same-sex ban. He had some thoughts about gender roles and parenting that deserve a closer look [emphases mine].

So your little son starts to act a little girlish when he is four years old and instead of squashing that like a cockroach and saying, ‘Man up, son, get that dress off you and get outside and dig a ditch, ’cause that’s what boys do,’ [laughter] you get out the camera and you start taking pictures of Johnny acting like a female and then you upload it to YouTube and everybody laughs about it and next thing you know, this dude, this kid is acting out childhood fantasies that should have been squashed [shouts of "amen"]. Can I make it any clearer? Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist [several in audience: "amen"]. Man up. Give him a good punch [laughter]. Ok? ‘You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male.’

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 are going to walk like a girl, and talk like a girl, and smell like a girl. And that means that you are going to be beautiful; you’re going to be attractive; you’re going to dress yourself up.”

Say, “Can I take charge like that as a parent?” Yeah, you can [laughter]. You’re authorized. I just gave you a special dispensation this morning to do that.

Harris disavowed portions of the sermon in an interview with the Fayetteville Observer.

“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.”

From within the church, Harris said, “the response was, ‘Pastor, we know you didn’t mean that.’ “

“We know when you’re saying something seriously and when were supposed to just understand the intent and not the application,’ ” Harris said.

Even if he was just joking, it was a tasteless and easily misunderstood joke. And, as he continues to make clear, he has an essentialist view of male and female roles, and thinks that it is sinful and contrary to the will of God to stray outside of them.

He’s dead serious about that.

About Bentley Owen

Bentley Owen reads books and lives in Tulsa, OK. He's on twitter.

  • The Captain

    Why are people with the name “Harris” rocketing up my douche-bag list this week?

  • http://limerickfun.blogspot.com/ Rich Stage

    If you think you might have a hunch
    that your son might like boys a bunch.
    He’s got a limp wrist?
    Then ball up your fist
    and give that li’l guy a good punch.

    • monyNH

       I don’t really want to “like” this…but I do think it is brilliant.  :)

      • http://limerickfun.blogspot.com/ Rich Stage

        Thanks. I’ll take a ‘brilliant’ over a mouse click any day :)

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson
    • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

       that image is a bit dishonest isn’t it? The many Christians that walked out of Dan Savage’s speech were offended by his comments about the bible supporting slavery, not for suggesting that people ignore the anti-gay sentiment.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        Ya, good point.

        In particular putting Pastor in quotes separates him from the reality of his position.  I realize a many/most Christians are appalled by him, but he does hold an official position within Christianity.  If he isn’t a True Scotsman (whether or not he represents anyone else), then who is?

    • http://www.facebook.com/keithacollyer Keith Collyer

       As a general rule, I don’t agree with using violence, whether for behaviour modification or anything else. But in this case it could be argued that it is not modification, but education, as I am sure the violence would not change his views. This is a nice Catch 22, if violence does not change his views, this proves that violence does not change people, so his original arguments are wrong. But if it does change his view…

  • dantresomi

    you should read his “apology” 

  • Lady_ravenchilde

    Yeah. Ha ha. He he. Ho ho. It sure is funny to “joke” about those faggots and dykes and coons and spics and all those other people we hate, right? After all, it’s “just a joke”, right?

    • AnalogousGumdropDecoder

       Yeah, punching children is funny!  His congregation knew he was just joking, right?  That’s why they were yelling “amen!”

  • gski

    “… God makes it clear that effeminate behavior is ungodly.”
    I’ve never heard that, where in the bible does it come from?

    • BentleyOwen

      I’m curious about that as well. If you believe in a personal God responsible for each individual life, of course you would also believe that each person’s sex is determined by this God. But I’m not sure how much Biblical support there is for his specific ideas about how God wants boys and girls to act.

      That’s not to say that the Bible doesn’t have some ridiculous ideas about men and women. Here’s a taste from 1 Corinthians:

       “I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering.”
       
      - 1 Corinthians 11:2-15 (NIV)

      • gski

         Such concern over a man’s head not being covered.  This must be a prohibition of condoms.

      • http://www.facebook.com/enemy0 Daniel Losey

        Lol. “…
        because of the angels.” 

        The one thing not gone over ad nauseam is the part that makes the least sense in a passage that makes no sense.

    • TiltedHorizon

      1 Corinthians 6:9 (KJV)
      “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not
      inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor
      idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves
      with mankind,”

      The word ‘effeminate’ is translated from the Greek word ‘μαλακοὶ’ which means ‘soft’, typically used to describe clothing, specifically fine expensive clothes like the type owned by the wealthy. Obviously, ‘soft’ does not translate well to ‘effeminate’,  but since the translation agrees with the bias of the reader it must be true.

      As a reference, here is the NKJV translation.
       
      “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of
      God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor
      adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,”

      Seems ‘effeminate’ has been dropped in favor of ‘homosexuals’. Further evidence that any translation can be used as long as it supports the bias.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Margaret-Whitestone/100001682409207 Margaret Whitestone

    Special dispensation to brutally beat gay/potentially gay kids.  How very Christian.  

    • The Other Weirdo

       And not even that. These aren’t gay or potentially gay kids. These are kids who momentarily act outside the adult norm as he sees it.

  • Gaby A.

    Here’s this D-bag’s retraction, audio from this 11am this morning, basically reading his “retraction”…yeah, he may think it’s a joke, but people take it seriously. 
    http://pastorseansblog.blogspot.ca/

    • Stev84

      The only thing he is sorry for is that he got caught. But he clearly believes everything he said and he hasn’t backed down from anything.

      He is your typical crazy, antisocial, power hungry megachurch pastor. The really scary thing is that his church owns a kindergarten and school. He shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near children.

      • Gaby A.

        I’m just surprised he used the phrase LGBT fluidly, no stumbling at all…something tells me we will see him within a year in scandal involving a male prostitute.

        • Fargofan1

          Ah yes, the LGBT “lifestyle,” notice.

  • Javier

    I think he should publicly donate $10,000 to Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign.

  • Onamission5

    Sorry, I can’t be witty or wise right now. I have to clean up all the vomit off my keyboard.

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    What a piece of trash. And not just him… everybody in that room who uttered “amen” or who laughed is just as disgusting.

    • AnalogousGumdropDecoder

      Yes.  I thought that was actually more disturbing than the fact that one nutjob happened to be spewing this junk.

  • Sue Blue

    “Fathers!  It’s yur Gawd-given duty to throw yur weight around the house, show them kids you got the balls in the family, and them balls make you the boss.  Never you mind what little Billy or Suzy might want or feel, cuz we all know that self-esteem stuff is nothin’ but a bunch of psychobabble.  And don’t ask yur wife’s opinion, either – cause she’s just around to cook, clean and keep you happy, like it says in the Scriptures.”

    Bleeding shitballs – that asshole couldn’t have packed more bigotry, misogyny, and sheer douchebaggery into a sermon if he’d tamped it down and shat on it.   And that not-pology was just as bad.

  • ESC_key

    For someone who considers himself a “man of God”, those certainly are the words of a monster. While I do not believe in any god, I can definitely say that if there was a deity who considered this scum to be his “messenger,” such a deity would not be worthy of worship. Not from me, nor from anyone else. 

    • Jungleboiman

      I cannot help but agree with you on that.

  • monyNH

    Who are the fucktards “amen”-ing this crap? I grew up in a mainline Protestant tradition, but I am constantly amazed–and appalled–by what goes on in other churches. Sure, we did the whole hymn singing/sermon-listening/communion thing, but at least our pastors preached about social justice, and encouraged questioning the Bible by placing it in an historical context. I mean, if you MUST practice a religion, at least let it be one that isn’t so completely effed up that it condones punching freaking kids!!

    • Xeon2000

      Maybe it’s a baptist thing. I went to baptist church with this girl I was dating several years ago, and it was like that. What I mean is that every 10 seconds a few parishioners would shout “amen” at the top of their lungs. They sounded like they were competing for who was the most zealous. The preacher could have been talking about cheeseburgers and the behavior would have been the same. I think it’s an involuntary response and they aren’t consciously aware they’re doing it.

  • TheAnalogKid

    Piece of shit. 

  • http://stochasticscientist.blogspot.com/ Kathy Orlinsky

    I’m having a hard time deciding whether punching boys in the face is worse than sexualizing girls and insisting that they ‘smell good’. I hope people in his community have the sense to keep their children away from him.

    • AnalogousGumdropDecoder

      It’s your job to look beautiful and smell good.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      To be fair, at least he didn’t suggest that the daughters be raped to make them straight

      http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/04/28/rape-away-the-gay/ 

    • http://northierthanthou.com/ nothierthanthou

       Actually I think both themes build a strong case for the reality of sexual perversion. …his.

  • pagansister

    This so called preacher man is one of the poorest examples of what Christianity claims to be—-where is the “love” that is supposed to be expressed by those people?  But then it is NC and it is a Southern Baptist church.   If he has children, I think they may turn against this father person when they get old enough to understand what a jerk he is.  My son-in-law was raised in a very strict Christian religion—and he is now an Atheist.   Would serve this man right if his “effeminate” male child and his “butch” daughter just left the whole Christian ball game.       Wonder what he thinks of Kilts?   :o)  If Harris wants an example of who might qualify for the hell that they believe in—he should look at himself!

    • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

      “If he has children, I think they may turn against this father person when they get old enough to understand what a jerk he is.”

      Hopefully they will…if they’re not too busy abusing their own children. Glad to hear of your son-in-law’s escape. It’s always comforting to see people break the cycle of abuse.

  • Bruce_wright

    Very young children sometime mistake the things that differentiate the sexes.  They sometimes associate long hair with being a girl, or wearing blue with being a boy.  They think that wearing pink actually turns you into a girl.

    Of course, very small children can be excused for not understanding that human sexuality is not as superficial as that.

    Also, for some people it seems there’s no parenting problem that can’t be solved with a little adult-on-child violence.   What brave people these are.

    • http://conuly.dreamwidth.org/ Conuly

       Gender identity != sexuality.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bruce-Wright/1451447525 Bruce Wright

         Correct.  I think that was also part of my point. 

        I can phrase it more directly if you prefer.

        Of course, very small children can be excused for not understanding that human gender identity is not changed by that, nor does sexuality follow  gender identity necessarily.

        But I’m not a gender/sexuality studies teacher.  I’m a commenter on a blog.

  • Stev84

    He also edited the original transcript of his sermon to remove the most offensive parts:
    http://www.goodasyou.org/good_as_you/2012/05/pastor_sean-scrubs-and-replaces-sermon-transcript-thatll-show-ya-reality.html

    The guy is a pathological liar.

  • Ibis3

    Yeah, somehow I don’t think he was joking at all.

  • Ndonnan

    Ha one of my favorite photos is of my then 3yo peeing naked except for his mums high heels, i didnt realise i should have smacked him,for his own good of course

    • Sue Blue

      My son played with my young sister’s Barbie dolls until he was six or seven; he also liked to cook and sew.  Yet, somehow, even though never punched by his dad for it, he grew up to be a tough – and completely heterosexual! – Navy diver.  He was also a loving father who took his little daughter hiking and fishing and taught her the basics of tae kwon do.  He could have picked up this “pastor” and broken him like a twig over his knee, but he believed real “manly” strength is measured by never using it.

  • Keulan

    I’m not convinced that he was just joking.

    • http://northierthanthou.com/ nothierthanthou

       He wasn’t.

  • http://northierthanthou.com/ nothierthanthou

    I love the attempt to suggest his intent wasn’t to advocate violence. It’s like “context” has been transformed into a time machine, and if we just reference it, then we can pretend he didn’t really mean it.

    …even though he so clearly did.

    • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

       You weren’t interpreting his sermon with the proper hermeneutics. /s

      • The Other Weirdo

        You learned me a new word. Thankee.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/OffensivAtheist bismarket

    When these “People” understand that being gay is not a choice they may stop acting so badly. If this guy is anything to go by, suppressing your own urges is likely to turn you into a bigot, as there has to be more going on here than “It says so in my Bible”. Too many of these homophobe preachers get caught out in public restrooms for their not to be.

    • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

      Just a mild note. Gender identity != Sexual orientation. Although your statement is completely true, just needed to put that there.

      (And yes, most goddists don’t realize the above non-equation, either.)

      • Stev84

        It should also be noted that not all gender-nonconforming children are either of those. Some straight girls are tomboys and some straight boys are effeminate. And just because they exhibit such behavior as small children, doesn’t mean that they aren’t going to change by themselves when they grow older. Never mind that minor stuff like playing with dolls or having short hair shouldn’t even be called “gender-nonconforming”.

        • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

          That too. Lots of kids that young are floating around the idea of gender roles and boundaries. They’re too young to have much of an idea over things like that. Usually they choose one way or the other later in life.

          • https://twitter.com/#!/OffensivAtheist bismarket

            s’ok i get it now;-))

      • https://twitter.com/#!/OffensivAtheist bismarket

         OK, this is something i would like to get right in future, so thanx for the heads up that i was mistaken about something & sorry if i’m a bit *slow but i don’t understand the equation/what you mean?

        • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

          Aha, sorry. Computer programmer here. Gender Identity does not equal Sexual Orientation. There are gay, straight, and bi transmen as well as lesbian, straight, and bi transwomen (hi!)

          The != sign is just programmer code for the ≠ symbol

          • https://twitter.com/#!/OffensivAtheist bismarket

             Thanx for the reply, your right of course, i was generalising. Always dangerous.

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

    It’s behavior like this man that causes people like me to stay fearfully closeted for half of their lives. It’s the fear of the belt, the endless “man up”s, and the desire to be “right” in the eyes of a Christian Conservative father that makes me still to this day afraid of coming out as a trans woman to him.

  • That one guy

    What’s wrong with homosexuality.

    I have gay friends and they don’t seem to bother me.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Isn’t making a 4-year boy(or girl, for that matter), dig a ditch tantamount to child labour and prohibited in civilized countries?

  • Fsq

    Ah yes, good old fashioned Christian love in action. It brings a tear to the eye….mostly because they are beating us, but still it is a tear none the less.

    Christainty is evil and vile.

  • Onamission5

    I think we should flood his inbox with all of the articles and studies which suggest that playing with dolls helps develop a child’s sense of empathy and nurturing, which in turn makes them better able to handle interpersonal conflict later in life, as well as helping them be a better parent. Regardless of whether it’s a boy or a girl.

    Why wouldn’t he want boys to grow up to be good, caring fathers?

    • Stev84

      I believe he is a sociopath. He wouldn’t know what empathy, love and caring feels like

  • Chas

    there are ministers, and then there are Ministers…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HTxH_Gv8m4

  • charvakan

    Ted Haggard, Bishop Eddie Long, Sean Harris???

  • Edmond

    It hardly MATTERS if he was joking.  As a community leader that many people look to for guidance, he should have a greater awareness of the impact his sermon will have.  He shows NO personally responsibility here.

    Even if he WAS joking, there WILL be children who are punched and beaten because of what he said.  There WILL be cracked and broken wrists, because many people will take his words to heart.

  • Punkylove04

    I have degree in early childhood development and to hear such a nieve statement regarding children in play makes me mad that thede perceptions still exsist. A little boy eith a doll might come from a home where his parents split caring for an infant
    Or he just liked dolls, it is more damaging to a child to make th feel guilty during play then to allow them to play out a scenario. These scenarios are our built-in need to make sense of what we see and experience in life sd a child

  • Au_catboy

    The christian thing to do would be to tie a big-ass rock around his neck and toss him in the ocean.  But, of course, christians can never seem to bring themselves to do what jesus told them to unless it’s convenient for them…


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