Virulently antigay North Carolina preacher Sean Harris took a half-step away from comments he made on Sunday where he told his congregation to attack young boys who act effeminate.
Harris's words, recorded and uploaded to the Internet on Tuesday, enraged many. Though, not apparently his congregation at Fayetteville's Berean Baptist Church, who, according to Harris, told him they knew he didn't really mean what he said about punching and cracking the wrists of toddlers with "limp wrists." The pastor made the comments while pushing his congregation to vote for North Carolina's Amendment One, which would ban all recognized relationships that aren't heterosexual marriage. Harris now claims he was joking about advocating violence against children, according to the Fayetteville Observer.
"If I had to say it again, I would say it differently, no doubt," Harris tells the newspaper. "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."
And LGBT activists weren't the only people outraged by Harris — child advocates in the state condemned his remarks.
"We know that children thrive when they grow up in safe, stable, nurturing relationships," said Rosie Allen Ryan, president of the nonprofit Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina. "Unfortunately, this pastor is telling his congregation to harm their children."
Maybe more frightening than Harris's shrieks for violence against children who don't conform to society's gender roles is the fact that his church runs a school, from kindgarten to high school, that graduated 18 students last year.