The North Carolina pastor who sermonized that boys should get “a good punch” if they were being too effeminate now says that physical discipline depends on their weight.
Pastor Sean Harris of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville drew international opprobrium with his rant, which included telling his laughing parishioners:
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. Ok?
In a strange new interview (watch below) with local Justin Griffith, Harris responded to a question about whether he was literally recommending the use of a rod:
“No, of course not. We may use some instrument of discipline in a careful and appropriate way. Depending on the age of the child, depending on the weight of the child.”
He said this after saying to Griffith “never beat your child” more than once.
After his sermon draw international attention, Harris told his local newspaper that he “misspoke.”
In a comment in response to Griffith’s posting of video of her interview with him, Harris is now saying that he issued a “global retraction and apology” in an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN and that:
I used two words, crack and punch, both of which are being completely blown out of context.
I was not advocating for child abuse. I said, never beat your child. You … and many others are misquoting me. They are putting words in my mouth that I never said.
But he told Cooper:
“You know, it’s amazing how ‘punch’ has been equated to inciting violence against gay youth. That’s not what I meant.”
Instead, he said, the reference should be interpreted differently: “A shove, an affirmation. You see coaches give their players a good punch, a good slug. It’s a way of affirming the gender distinctions between a male and a female,” he said.
There also was no “global retraction and apology”:
Anyone looking for a sweeping apology will be disappointed.
“I was apologizing for failing to say the right thing, for failing to be more careful, to make sure that no one thinks that Sean Harris is suggesting, as was said – although I never said this – … ‘Beat the gay outta children.’ Those weren’t my words, I didn’t even believe there is such a thing as gay children. So I wasn’t saying that. I was dealing with effeminate behavior, and instructing parents to affirm the manhood or the womanhood in their children,” he said.
“No, I don’t think that I need to apologize for preaching to my people what the word of God says. That’s my responsibility.”
Claiming to be the victim is standard practice on the religious right and Harris also comments on Griffith’s post that:
The real issue with my sermon is that it is a pro-heterosexual marriage sermon.
Harris does say that he disagrees with another local Pastor who backed him up, Mark Rowden, who said:
Pastor Harris should be praised for his bold stance in scripture. People get so bent out of shape over things. If America don’t stop allowing such ungodliness to go unchallenged, we’ll find our nation like Sodom. We forget the Bible says “spare the rod, spoil the child”.
But from Harris’ latest comments they apparently only disagree on the definition of ‘rod.’
Locals held a protest outside Harris’ church on Sunday. Micah Royal, of the Progressive Christian Alliance and pastor at Diversity in Faith, was among them. He told NBC-17:
“As a pastor, I feel very strongly that I need to speak out against these words. This is my book too and I do not believe the words of scripture stand behind beating, abusing or marginalizing anyone, especially children,” he said.
More than 10,000 Christians have now signed onto a statement circulated by Faithful America, a faith-based Washington, D.C. nonprofit. It says:
“Faithful Christians are appalled by Pastor Sean Harris’ hateful tirade urging violence against gay and lesbian youth. Violence and child abuse can never be justified by the teachings of Jesus Christ. All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, should be assured in church that they are beloved children of God.”
Watch Justin Griffith’s interview with Harris:
Photo credit: Keoni Cabral
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