A North Carolina pastor is trying to temper the storm following controversy surrounding some recent comments he made about corporal punishment and homosexuality. Pastor Sean Harris says he was joking when he told parents to punch their sons if they show any signs they are gay.
According to The Fayetteville Observer, the faith leader made the comments when he was preaching at Berean Baptist Church about marriage before next week's vote on a state constitutional amendment. The comments quickly made their way out into the blogosphere.
The Observer has more:
Harris' comments spread rapidly Tuesday on the Internet after a snippet of his fiery 55-minute sermon was posted to several blogs.
In the clip, Harris berates parents who see boys dressing like girls without "squashing that like a cockroach."
"Can I make it any clearer?" he yells on the recording. "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. OK?"
Laughter and a few shouts of "Amen" can be heard in response.
Here's audio from the sermon:
"If I had to say it again, I would say it differently, no doubt," Harris said earlier this week. "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."
Harris says he does not advocate hitting children and wishes he could take back the remarks. Gay and children's rights advocates have reacted quite starkly to the comments that continue to be reported on blogs and in media. The Observer provides some of their comments:
Harris' remarks drew fire from gay rights campaigners.
"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.
The entire sermon can be heard, below:
The constitutional amendment in question would make marriage between a man and a woman the only legal domestic union in the state. However, gay marriage is already illegal in the state, so amendment opponents argue that the proposal's language is unclear and could have wider consequences.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.