By Steve Lyttle, McClatchy Newspapers
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A North Carolina pastor’s sermon in which he called for gays and lesbians to be placed in a form of concentration camp has spurred a protest planned at the church this Sunday.
A group calling itself Catawba Valley Citizens Against Hate says it plans a peaceful protest Sunday outside Providence Road Baptist Church in Catawba County, an independent Baptist church where the Rev. Charles Worley delivered his controversial homily on May 13.
Worley’s sermon on Mother’s Day has received more than 165,000 views on YouTube.
It also has caused plenty of confusion for the much-larger Providence Baptist Church in Charlotte, where the church’s senior pastor has issued a statement, distancing his church from the Catawba County pastor.
Leaders at the Charlotte church said they thoroughly disagree with Worley’s comments and say they have received a number of angry emails, phone calls and other messages from people who mistook them for the Catawba church.
The Catawba preacher’s remarks came five days after more than 60 percent of North Carolina voters approved a referendum that defined marriage as a civil union between a man and a woman — in effect, outlawing gay marriages.
The church originally placed the video on its website, but it was removed late over the weekend. Providence Road Baptist’s website was not operating Tuesday, possibly due to the large number of people trying to access the site. But the video is still posted on YouTube.
It appears as if the May 13 sermon by Worley was aimed as criticism of President Barack Obama’s announcement days earlier that he supports the right of gay couples to be married. Worley told his congregation that he couldn’t vote for a “baby killer and a homosexual lover.”
After using biblical passages that he said supported his argument, Worley then outlined a plan to put gays and lesbians in confinement.
The 71-year-old minister suggested building a large fence, 100 or 150 miles long, he said. He said lesbians would be put in one area, “and the queers and the homosexuals in another, and have that fence electrified, so they can’t get out.”
“Feed ’em, and you know what?” Worley continued. “In a few years, they’ll die. Do you know why? They can’t reproduce.”
Some members of the congregation can be heard saying “Amen” in response to the pastor’s remarks.
As might be expected, the pastor’s comments have set off an outburst of comments on Internet bulletin boards. Worley himself could not be contacted.
The group planning the protest Sunday is asking for people opposed to Worley’s comments to gather outside the church in Maiden, N.C., for a peaceful demonstration.
“We will not scream, shout or taunt Pastor Worley or his church’s members,” according to a message issued by the group. “We will not vandalize, threaten or injure property or persons.”
Meanwhile, in Charlotte, Dr. Al Cadenhead, senior pastor of Providence Baptist Church, said, “In recent hours, we have been incorrectly identified as the church in another town where hatred and violence have been advocated from the pulpit.
“First of all, we are genuinely Baptist in that we recognize the right of every church to reach out or not to reach out, as that church deems itself to be led.
“Jesus preached a Gospel of love. So do we. Jesus preached that we love our neighbor, whether that neighbor is like us or not.”