Wednesday, May 2, 2012

North Carolina Pastor Tells Parents to Punch Effeminate Boys

On Tuesday, Good As You shared an audio excerpt from last week's "Marriage Sunday," a faith even sponsored by Vote For Marriage NC in opposition to same-sex marriage. The event comes before a May 8th vote on Amendment One, the so-called North Carolina Marriage Protection Amendment which would ban same-sex marriage. 

The audio segment features Pastor Sean Harris of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, NC, telling parents to punch sons who act effeminate and force "butch" daughters to act stereotypically feminine.
"So your little son starts to act a little girlish when he's 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,' 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 the next thing you know, this dude, this kid is acting out childhood fantasies that should have been squashed.

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. Man up! Give him a good punch, okay? You're 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 reign her in, and you say, 'Oh no, oh no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play them to the glory of God. But sometimes you are going to act like a girl and walk like a girl and talk like a girl and smell like a girl and that means you are going to be beautiful. You are going to be attractive. You are going to dress yourself up.'

You say, “Can I take charge like that as a parent?” Yeah, you can. You are authorized. I just gave you a special dispensation this morning to do that."
The viciousness of the message, combined with Harris' loud, overbearing voice, made the excerpt difficult for me to listen to. What shocked me even more was that members of the audience were laughing and saying "Amen" during the sermon.

According to a May 2nd article in the Fayetteville Observer, Harris insisted that he does not advocate violence against children and was joking when he made those comments. Nevertheless, he stressed that "effeminate behavior is ungodly." At his personal blog, Harris insisted that his words were being "completely taken out of context by those in the LGBT community." He stressed that he does not believe violence is capable of "fixing effeminate behavior or homosexual behavior," and that parents should not punch babies or children. Only Jesus, he wrote, can "deliver" people from homosexuality and effeminacy. "The opposition is revealing their complete lack of toleration toward those do not approve of the LGBT lifestyle or agenda," he concluded. In short, Harris backed off from his statements about violence, but not from his disapproval of homosexuality or of males who don't act stereotypically masculine enough for him.

Let me get this straight. Joking (allegedly) about punching little boys and cracking their wrists? Oops, so sorry. Expressing horror at such statements? Oh, that's a "complete lack of toleration." Huh!?

Also on May 2nd, Harris issued an official statement of retraction, admitting that he should not have made comments about "cracking," "punching," and "special dispensation." He apologized to anyone he may have offended and claimed that he did not saying anything to intentionally offend the LGBT community. Harris insisted that he never suggested that children or people in the "LGBT lifestyle" should be physically or psychologically abused. (Listen to his sermon and decide for yourselves.) However, he still referred to homosexuality as an abomination and form of sexual immorality. The retraction, he stressed, should not be construed as an apology for his views on marriage.

Radio host David Pakman condemned Harris' statements on a recent edition of his show. He called Berean Baptist Church and threw Harris' comments back at them, which was absolutely priceless. (Hat tip to Truth Wins Out.)

Harris' comments sickened me. Not only did his sermon reek of homophobia and misogyny, but his "joke" about brutalizing boys who don't fit his masculine ideal was repugnant. Why on earth would anyone joke about punching children? What's wrong with allowing children to be themselves? What's wrong with acknowledging that there are many healthy ways to be a boy or a girl? Why do girls necessarily have to be attractive to others? What is this thing Harris has against "effeminancy"? Why are traits associated with females so abhorrent to Harris that he would joke about literally beating them out of boys? 

His lukewarm apology notwithstanding, Harris was out of line, whether he was joking or not. His statements suggest a worldview in which heterosexism is the rule, children are shoehorned into rigid gender roles, and people who deviate from antiquated stereotypes are targets of scorn.

The pastor says that he was joking, but I'm not laughing.

For additional commentary, visit the following links.

Think Progress: Amendment One Pastor: 'Crack' Your Four-Year-Old Son's Limp Wrist

The Advocate: Hateful Pastor Sean Harris Thinks Effeminate Children Are Ungodly

Box Turtle Bulletin: NC Pastor: Gay Kids Just Need a Good Punch

Good As You: I Proudly, Unapologetically Reject Sean Harris' Non-Apology


  1. It makes me wonder ... how long before we hear of a homosexual scandal about Harris? Clearly, he has issues, otherwise he wouldn't be so strongly against it.

    1. Lorena -- Well, I do get the impression that he's insecure about his masculinity, or else he wouldn't obsess over effeminacy.

  2. That's the problem with rhetoric. And saying "I was joking" or "you're taking my comments out of context" doesn't make the crazy seem sane. Pastor Harris' attitude (as expressed by his original remarks) is typical of certain strands of conservative Christianity. These folks are the best argument against that world view.

    1. Doug -- Yeah, "I was joking" doesn't make his comments any less repugnant. I hope this drives people away from the anti-LGBT movement by revealing its hatred.

  3. Well said. And even if Harris was "joking," he's still advocating what amounts to the emotional abuse of children who do not conform to his definitions of appropriate gender roles. Emotional abuse is certainly as damaging if not more so; and the negative effects can last a lifetime.

    Shame on Harris. Although nothing surprises me from the hate-mongers anymore, it's still stunning that these attitudes still reflect the views of a significant demographic. Scary.

    Oh, and speaking of "man-up," Harris should follow his own advice and accept responsibility for his hateful words rather than whine that they were taken out of context. What a coward.

    1. Cognitive Dissenter -- Agreed. He need to take FULL responsibility for what he said and make amends.

  4. I don't buy that apology for a second. He's not sorry he advocated beating the gay out of kids (not that you can actually do that). He's just sorry his tirade went viral and resulted in so much outrage. I can only imagine what other hateful, dangerous things he's said in the past that either weren't recorded or didn't manage to get out to the rest of the world.

    1. Buffy -- I'm hoping that the progressive blogosphere will bring other of his hateful statements to light.


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