May 3, 2012 -- A North Carolina pastor who told parents in a Sunday sermon that they should hit their children if they began to act gay has retracted his advice, saying he should have spoken more carefully.
Pastor Sean Harris, of the Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, N.C., apologized in a statement released this week for "any and all words that suggest that child abuse is appropriate for any and all types of behaviors, including (but not limited to) effminancy and sexual immorality of all types."
In the sermon, given Sunday in support of a proposed North Carolina amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman, Harris talked at length about homosexual behaviors. At one point, he instructed fathers who "see that son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist."
Harris said that gay tendencies in young children should be "squashed like a cockroach" and that if parents see young boys acting like girls, fathers should "give [them] a good punch.
"When your daughter starts acting too butch, you reign her in," Harris said in the sermon, which was posted in a video online. "You're 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're going to be beautiful and you're going to be attractive and you're going to dress yourself up."
Harris later told the Fayetteville Observer newspaper on Tuesday that he "would never ever advocate" hitting a child.
"If I had to say it again, I would say it differently, no doubt," Harris told the newspaper Tuesday. "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."
Despite retracting his statement that parents should be violent toward seemingly-gay children, Harris reiterated that parents should reinforce traditional gender roles in children.
"I do not apologize for the manner in which the word of God articulates sexual immorality, including homosexuality and effimancy, as a behavior that is an abomination of God," he said in a written statement.
Gay rights activists in Harris' community equated his tactics with the Westboro Baptist Church, a fundamentalist Christian church.
Harris did not return calls for comment.