“Well, read your Bible. It is right there.”
—Pastor Sean Harris
he Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina, advises that its “typical service lasts 80 minutes.” In 80 minutes you can be in-and-out, satisfied that you have sang, prayed, and heard the most God-awful sermon you have ever heard.
Unless, of course, you are a typical Bible-thumpin’, King James Version believin’ Republican Christian. In that case, you will have liked what you heard and it will inspire you to vote against The Gay.
Call this 80-minute treatment what it is: McBigotry.
This church—which its website helpfully points out is only “8 minutes from the main gate” of Fort Bragg, named after a Confederate general and boasting of a population of almost 40,000—is the home of Pastor Sean Harris, now infamous for, among other things, urging violence against four-year-old boys who show what the pastor considers signs of homosexuality.
During a sermon extolling the virtues of North Carolina’s Amendment 1, a proposed constitutional alteration that would superfluously ban same-sex marriage (it’s already illegal in the state), Pastor Harris said the following (please, watch the video clip and read the transcript):
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, because that is 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 gonna 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 ’em! Play ’em 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. (Laughter)
Now, soak that in. Let it penetrate your mind. This church has a school—a school!— with “over 400 students.” And think about this: Many of your fellow Americans hold similar views. Many of your neighbors or co-workers or friends or relatives would be among those applauding and laughing, if they were sitting in the stinking pews of the Berean Baptist Church.
Because America is polluted with such bigotry. America is full of Berean Baptist Churches, albeit with other names on the church signs.
Before he got to the permission-to-commit-child-abuse meat of his sermon, Pastor Harris started out with a call to civic responsibility:
So my job this morning, my objective this morning, is to so motivate you that you will make it your priority to register and cast a ballot in the next eight days. And if you have not registered, it is not too late. You can get a voter registration card this morning from Keith Howard in the narthex, fill that out. Take it to an early balloting place and you will be able to cast your vote as long as you do it during early voting. You have to be registered to vote on May 8th. If you are not registered to vote on May 8th, you must vote early. You must vote early, and right now the polling places are virtually empty.
So, it is not too much to ask you to get a card this morning, fill out the appropriate information, and make it your priority between Monday and Friday this week to get to one of the polling locations.
Get it? Before the pastor tells you it’s okay to manhandle your kids in the service of God’s allegedly anti-gay agenda, it is absolutely vital that this Man of God motivate you to get out and cast a vote for virtue!
I said the other day that these folks are sick. I know because I used to be one of them. And the only cure, the only thing that will make the world safe from such Iron Age stupidity, is for the rest of us—me and you—to speak up and confront them.