May has been a busy month for anti-equality advocates in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As voters were preparing to vote on an amendment to ban same-sex unions, a local pastor told his congregation to beat effeminate boys. A few days after the ban was passed, another pastor gave a sermon on eliminating gays and lesbians through Holocaust-style mass extermination. Needless to say, the Universal Life Church Monastery vehemently opposes this call to violence on the part of so-called “Christian” ministers.
Few ministers have shown the temerity to publicly endorse violence against gays and lesbians, but Pastor Charles Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, North Carolina, is one of them. During a sermon on 13 May, Worley described his preferred method of “cleansing” the world of sexual minorities: “I figured a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers,” he said. “Build a great, big, large fence — 150- or 100-mile long — put all the lesbians in there…. Do the same thing for the queers and the homosexuals, and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out. Feed ’em, and you know what?” he continued, “[i]n a few years they’d die out. You know why? They can’t reproduce.” Perhaps just as disturbing as Worley’s actual words were the sadistic chuckles and murmurs of approval coming from the congregation.
Just a few days earlier, Pastor Sean Harris of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville told his congregation that they should beat children who show early signs of homosexual tendencies. He told fathers to “crack” their sons’ limp wrists and to “[m]an up, give them a good punch, OK. ‘You’re not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you’re going to be a male.'” On how to deal with masculine girls, he said, “[w]hen your daughter starts acting too butch, you reign her in,” he said, shouting that girls should “act,” “walk,” “talk,” and “smell” like a girl. He also told parents they were “authorized” to act this way, and that he “gave” them “special dispensation this morning to do that,” eliciting the same kind of sadistic laughter as Worley did in his sermon.
Harris’s tirade illustrates just how much homophobia ties in which sexism. Effeminate boys and masculine girls pose a threat, in his view, because they do not conform to traditional sex roles. But what is a “male” supposed to act like? And what is a “female” supposed to act like? Not necessarily the way Harris believes. Books like Same Difference and Delusions of Gender have shed light on a growing body of research that challenges traditional assumptions about sex differences. Nevertheless, stubborn, misguided notions about gender continue to motivate homophobic threats of violence against children.
This type of activity is disturbing not only because it targets a marginalized group, but also because it endorses child abuse, female subjugation, and – by far most alarmingly – genocide. It is unfortunate that such ideas were hatched in the minds of those purportedly charged with the task of spreading the loving message of Christ. As ULC ministers, we should be speaking out against “hate sermons” by emphasizing the danger in forcing traditional sex roles on children. Male and female, gay and straight, and everything in between, we are all children of the same universe.
New York Daily News