A pastor in North Carolina who has been strongly condemned by many Christians for making anti-gay comments was given a standing ovation by his congregants during the church service Sunday.
Several members of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, N.C., and about 100 visitors gave Pastor Charles Worley a standing ovation when he approached the pulpit Sunday, Hickory Record reported. Others lift their hands in support of the 71-year-old pastor.
Worley received widespread criticism after his May 13 sermon in which he said gays should be rounded up into an electric fence and left to die. His remarks were apparently in response to President Barack Obama's May 9 announcement that he supports legalizing gay marriage.
"Build a great big large fence 50 or 100 miles long. Put all the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals. Have that fence electrified so they can't get out. You know what, in a few years, they'll die out. You know why? They can't reproduce," Worley said, according to a YouTube video of his sermon.
Pastor Worley appeared emboldened by the cheering he received by his church members in the presence of sheriff's deputies keeping an eye on the crowd to maintain order during the Sunday service. "I appreciate all the support," he was quoted as saying. "I've got a King James Bible," he said. "I've been a preacher for 53 years. Do you think I'm going to bail out on this?"
Worley said he was proud of the Bible. "Everything I do, say, or preach, I believe in this book."
The pastor also touched on other moral issues and spoke against the producers of adult films and breweries. "They don't care if you go to hell, but they'll take your money," he said.
The congregation also sang a few patriotic hymns to mark Memorial Day.
Angie Widener, a church member, was quoted as saying of the pastor that he "preaches from the Bible, and it's like that just about every Sunday."
Voters in North Carolina approved a constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions by a large margin May 8.
Worley's sermon went viral days after another controversial sermon by Pastor Sean Harris of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, N.C., came to light.
Harris told his church members that if their sons start acting effeminate, they should use physical force to adjust their behavior. "The second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist," he said in the sermon, as posted in a viral video on YouTube. "Man up! Give him a good punch, OK? 'You're not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male,'" he added, advising fathers on what they should say to their sons.
However, unlike Worley, Harris apologized shortly after his sermon became public, saying that although he did not choose the best words, he was trying to convey the ultimate message that homosexuality is not what God intended for mankind.
Bob Stith, Southern Baptist Convention's national strategist for gender issues, condemned the two pastors. "From the video clips it would appear that both men lead fairly large churches. I wonder how many people in those congregations were gripped with the fear that their personal struggle might be discovered," he said in a statement. "And how many have loved ones involved in homosexuality? I wonder about the loneliness and isolation they must have experienced, knowing they could never share those burdens."