Members of the North Carolina congregation headed by the pastor who preached about putting gays and lesbians in an electric fence and waiting for them to die, have spoken out in defense of the minister saying he simply told the truth.
Pastor Charles L. Worley, pastor of Providence Road Baptist Church of Maiden, N.C., drew backlash from Christians and non-Christians when he shared in a recent sermon his suggestion on how to "get rid" of homosexuals. Members of his congregation, however, do not believe Worley said anything wrong.
"He had every right to say what he said about putting them in a pen and giving them food," said Geneva Sims, who shared with WCNC.com that she had been listening to Worley since the 1970s. "The Bible says they are worthy of death. He is preaching God's word."
"Sometimes you've got to be scared straight," agreed another member, Stacey Pritchard, saying that what Worley was really aiming for in his sermon was a message of love. "He is trying to save those people from hell."
"He has nothing to hide," Pritchard continued. "He's not afraid of anything he said. He's a good man. It's a good church and he speaks the truth. He doesn't tiptoe around it."
"[Pastor Worley] takes a real firm stand on the Bible and what it says about different things," another church member, Joe Heffner, explained to CNN. "Whether I like it or not or whether anybody else likes it."
Although many Christian leaders agree that the Bible affirms homosexuality as a sin, some consider Worley's remarks unloving and harmful.
"Jesus preached a Gospel of love. So do we. Jesus preached that we love our neighbor, whether that neighbor is like us or not," said Dr. Al Cadenhead, senior pastor of Providence Baptist Church of Charlotte, in a statement Tuesday. His church was initially mistaken for the Maiden, N.C., congregation, but Dr. Cadenhead clarified that there is no association between the two churches.
"I see nothing Christian about it, and I see nothing American about it," the Rev. Welton Gaddy, president of Interfaith Alliance, told CNN's Anderson Cooper.
Worley responded to critics of his May 13 sermon the following Sunday, saying he loved homosexuals and wanted them to be saved.
"I talked a little bit, I believe it was last Sunday, on the homosexual lifestyle, and there was a whole lot of people who didn't like what I said. I want to read it out of the Bible, and then we'll go from there," he told his congregation.
"Listen, all of the Sodomites, the lesbians, and all of the ... what's that word? Gays – I didn't wanna say 'queers' – that say we don't love you; I love you more than you love yourself. I'm praying for you to be saved," he added.
A video of Pastor Worley's May 13 sermon published on YouTube Monday made national headlines and has drawn more than 680,000 views as of Thursday morning.
In the sermon, Worley says:
"I figured a way out, a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers, but I couldn't get it past the Congress. 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, and have that fence electrified so they can't get out. Feed them. And you know what? In a few years, they'll die out. Do you know why? They can't reproduce."
Repeated attempts by The Christian Post to reach Providence Road Baptist Church have been unsuccessful. The church's website has been taken down, its listed phone number only reveals a constant busy signal and email requests have bounced back.
Cached pages of Providence Road Baptist Church's website were still available online, however.
"Our heart's desire is to spread the Gospel to as many people as possible before our Lord's return. I was saved in 1959 and called to preach that same year. Over the past forty-five years, I pastored six churches before being led to Providence Road Baptist Church in November of 1976. My family and I have just celebrated our 27th year of serving the Lord here in Maiden, N.C.," states a short biography Pastor Worley on the website.
"We offer NO apologies in believing the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible is the inerrant Word of God," the pastor's statement reads.
Pastor Trevor Hammack of Victory Baptist Church in Ovalo, Texas, shared with The Christian Post a recent radio sermon of his highlighting a 1978 sermon from Worley, titled "Holding the Line," in which the minister talks about defending American and biblical values.
In the sermon, Worley states: "We're living in a day when homosexuals can go around getting the applause of a lot of people, lesbians and all the rest of it. Bless God, forty years ago they'd have hung them, bless God, from a white oak tree."
Hammock says that remarks like Worley's have the potential to cause great damage and irreparable harm.