Pastor Sean Harris Tries to Explain His Antigay Comments to an Atheist May 8, 2012

Pastor Sean Harris Tries to Explain His Antigay Comments to an Atheist

Justin Griffith, the force beyond Rock Beyond Belief, was able to talk to Pastor Sean Harris, the Christian who made headlines when he preached the following:

So your little son starts to act a little girlish when he is four years old and instead of squashing that like a cockroach and saying, ‘Man up, son, get that dress off you and get outside and dig a ditch, ’cause that’s what boys do,’ [laughter] you get out the camera and you start taking pictures of Johnny acting like a female and then you upload it to YouTube and everybody laughs about it and next thing you know, this dude, this kid is acting out childhood fantasies that should have been squashed [shouts of “amen”]. Can I make it any clearer? Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist [several in audience: “amen”]. Man up. Give him a good punch [laughter]. Ok? ‘You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male.’

And when your daughter starts acting too butch, you rein her in. And you say, “Oh, no! Oh no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play ’em. Play ’em to the glory of God. But sometimes you are going to walk like a girl, and talk like a girl, and smell like a girl. And that means that you are going to be beautiful; you’re going to be attractive; you’re going to dress yourself up.”

Say, “Can I take charge like that as a parent?” Yeah, you can [laughter]. You’re authorized. I just gave you a special dispensation this morning to do that.

Here’s Justin’s interview with the pastor:

The highlight (at the 6:10 mark):

Justin Griffith: “But you wouldn’t literally use a rod would you?”

Sean Harris: “No, of course not. We may use some instrument of discipline in a careful and appropriate way. Depending on the age of the child, depending on the weight of the child.”

See? All better now.

(via Rock Beyond Belief)

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  • Speaking of people named Harris…the other one, Sam Harris, is now is a pickle for letting fly with his bigoted remarks about profiling.

    PZ Myers is all over his ass…but I don’t know why this suprises anyone, since he has already made excuses for torture, Pre Emptive Nuclear War, and blamed the Jews for their own “victimhood”.

    And all with Atheistic Arguments.

    I no longer believe that it is a coincidence that EVERY officially Atheistic Government has been or is a totalitarian murdering dictatorship.

  • I assume you meant to say “every officially religious government” there. There is no religious government that does not routinely murder humans for so-called sins.

  • Alchemist

    What a slimy little cockroach Harris is. It turns my stomach to hear him speak about parenting.
    Harris is a deeply disturbed man. He poses a real danger to the community.
    But what I find most disgusting, and not a little frightening, is that there are bound to be those in his audience who disagree with his message, men and women who know this is wrong, yet they say nothing. They sit there listening to this odious little man talking about terrorising children who don’t conform to his standards in their own homes, without a word of protest. Not one of these grown-ass adults will stand up to him and say “What the hell is wrong with you? Have you lost your damn mind? This isn’t right, it’s disgusting and I’ll have no part in it!”
    So often it takes just one person to say something, just one person who is willing, to turn the tide in these situations. That one person gives the rest of the group permission to express their outrage about such vile ideas.
    I don’t know what sickens me more, those who agree with his message or those that don’t but remain silent. It’s time for those men to “man up” and do what’s right.

  • Marguerite

    “But you wouldn’t literally use a rod would you?”“No, of course not. We may use some instrument of discipline in a careful and appropriate way.”
    I see. Of COURSE he wouldn’t use a rod. But some other instrument of discipline would be just fine– and far preferable to a rod, presumably. What could such an “instrument of discipline” be? A belt? A riding crop? A switch? Even if these were somehow superior to a rod (which they aren’t), I’m supposed to believe that a guy who talked about cracking little boys’ wrists and punching them can be trusted to encourage his parishioners to use such “instruments” in a “careful and appropriate” way? Riiiiiiggggghhhht.

  • TheAnalogKid

    “I no longer believe that it is a coincidence that EVERY officially Atheistic Government has been or is a totalitarian murdering dictatorship.”

  • gski

    “We may use some instrument of discipline in a careful and appropriate way.”

    Doesn’t the bible (god) suggest stones, problem solved.

  • My dad had an instrument of discipline — a belt that he kept on the top of the couch — and used it as the Lord saw fit to instruct him.

  • Marguerite

    I admit that I didn’t watch the video (just had breakfast, didn’t want to lose it), so maybe this is already covered, but Harris has a statement on the discipline of children here, at the bottom of the page: 

    He advocates “appropriate and reasonable physical means employed upon the fleshy portion of the child’s buttocks” which (if administered appropriately) should “result in the child’s physical and spiritual betterment.” He does “reject the idea that bruising is ever the objective when disciplining a child.” There are at least four references to Proverbs verses that specifically mention rods, so it’s hard to imagine he isn’t advocating hitting children with objects of some sort.  Why he would respond “of course not” when asked if he means a literal rod, I don’t know. Surely that’s the impression he’s giving his congregation with all these references to Proverbs– that they should literally use rod on their children when they misbehave.

  • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    Interesting that so many Christians walked out on the recent speech by Dan Savage saying that the Bible should not be used as an excuse to bully gays. But here’s the church full of Christians listening to the preacher telling parents to physically abuse their children if their boys act a bit feminine or the girls act a bit masculine. And nobody walked out at all!

  • JoeBuddha

    I raised two children on my own (single father). They’re in their twenties; my daughter graduated high school with honors, college cum laude, and is currently in marketing (you can’t win them all) with an engineering firm. Doing fine. My son is a hard worker but a bit of a slacker (like me).
    The point is that I can’t remember any time I disciplined them. No rods, no belts. Just engaged them as human beings. Most discipline (hate that word) is child abuse full stop. I can picture with difficulty scenarios where it would be needed and maybe there are children that won’t respond to anything else, but I never needed it.

  • Joe Zamecki

    Listening to him back-peddling like crazy inspires a question. WOULD he says these things in front of his entire congregation? As part of a sermon? I highly doubt it.

    His flock should be introduced to this video. 

  • Joe Zamecki

    …would he SAY….not says…lol 

  • Patterrssonn

      “appropriate and reasonable physical means employed upon the fleshy portion of the child’s buttocks”… should “result in the child’s physical and spiritual betterment.”

    Have christians finally discovered the seat of the soul?

  • Patterrssonn

     I guess if you believe in magical talking snakes you’ll believe anything.

  • Michael

    Generally speaking, governments who need to state the religious views of their entire membership, including needing to call themselves atheists, are best avoided. The sane ones admit that religious belief/nonbelief is not something for governments to get involved in.

  • JayneEyre

     What I find more disgusting than those who sit and remain silent are those that agree with Harris and take his evil advice. Because, you know there are people out there that will take the “crack that wrist” literally, and are going to physically break a child’s wrist because the parent/child abuser will think it’s limp. The hate and negative stereotypes that Harris perpetuates is vile.

  • JayneEyre

     ARE vile. Sorry.

  • TiltedHorizon

    Where are the theists? Seems they only comment when they see an strawman opportunity to scold us on our behavior. Why are they so notability silent on this subject? Come on theists, support your fellow Christian or condemn him, choose a side instead of condoning it with silence.

  • Stev84

    This just shows that he is a sociopath. In this interview he tries very hard to control his rage. That’s why he speaks to calmly and clearly measured. But then he slipped up with the child beating comment and let his true self (as seen in the “sermon”) show

  • Stev84

    His church is probably borderline spiritually abusive. One of the gravest offenses in these churches is speaking out against the cult leader. They will do everything to shut dissenters up, including coercion, blackmail and shunning.

  • Pascale Laviolette

    Sam has never made excuses for torture!!! How are we still talking about this?  Sam merely used the point to illustrate how our sense of morality is often flawed — we flinch more at the thought of one person being tortured than hearing about collateral damage that takes far more lives.He also doesn’t BLAME the jews… my goodness.  He merely suggests that their label as “God’s chosen people” invites animosity from other religions.

    Not sure where you got pre-emptive nuclear war from…?  Can’t recall ever reading Sam advocate that.Lastly, those “atheistic” governments failed in that they became too much like religion – but with a human in “God’s” place, demanding submission, unflinching loyalty, devotion…  There is no doctrine in atheism to promote any wrongdoing, it’s merely incidental – like moustaches.

  • Dan Dorfman

    All of this creates an endless loop of control issues. Kids who get raised by controlling parents who funnel them into cookie-cutter lifestyles end up feeling helpless and pressured, and when they have kids they do the same to them to feel big and dominant. Children are people too, and they don’t deserve to be shoved into molds.

  • Stev84

    Not necessarily. It’s possible to break free from this behavior. There are many blogs by people (usually, but not only, women) who escaped from these kinds of churches and families. They usually take years to recover from it though and often need some form of therapy to help with it.

  • As a scientist, I like to see things presented in a clear and concise manner. Perhaps Harris could share his discipline chart with us- the little table in his mind that defines appropriate punishments. I’m imagining a chart with infractions in the left column, and body weight across the top row, nicely filled in with the proper responses- slap, cuff, smack, whip, stoning, etc. Maybe some nice psychological responses, as well- YouTube humiliation, shunning, isolation.

  • Since Harris was preaching for Amendment 1, think it’s on topic to mention (tweeted by Neil deGrasse Tyson)

  • Joe, i appreciate your comments. It sounds like you did a great job as a father, with wonderful children as the proof of this.
    I respectfully disagree with you, when you say that you never “disciplined” your children. Discipline has taken on such a negative connotation. I think that you disciplined your children in the very best sense of the word. Please keep in mind, that the word discipline is very similar to disciple. I think you discipled your children, in that you  acted as a guide, who mentored and taught them, and protected them when appropriate.

  • Jdatty

     None of them can match the death toll racked up by the the Militant Atheists in the last century alone.

  • Onamission5

    “Depending on the weight of the child…”

    I wonder how much HE weighs?

  • Jdatty

     Yes, that IS boring.  Since everyone knows its true, it gets old to keep hearing it.

  • Jdatty

     Like everything came from nothing, by nothing, and for nothing.

  • Jdatty

     Oh no, he doesn’t blame the Jews.  No way.  If they would just give up their Jewishness people would quit picking on them.

    If they don’t, thats their own damned fault.

  • Sean Harris isn’t unusual. I’d be willing to bet almost everyone sitting in the audience would agree that hitting children with objects is the god-ordained way to discipline them. There’s an entire industry built around this in the conservative evangelical and fundamentalist world, Debi and Michael Pearl being the most notorious example.

  • Marco Conti

    I am so tired to read this “nothing” bullshit. Is this really the best you got? 
    Is a bearded guy in the sky, a talking snake and a worldwide flood really such a better option? 

    Even if eventually science will find a “something” that existed before the singularity (and there are already things like “brane” that imply something was there but not in our universe) I can assure you 100% that the “something” they will find will be nothing like the something you think was there. 

    Just remember that science is often wrong, but science is self correcting and eventually gets it right. Religion is always demonstrably wrong when it tries to define science and never self corrects.  
    If science is wrong about this or that aspect it doesn’t automatically make the religion position right. 
    The first heliocentric theories were not accurate, but still they were more accurate than the geocentric dogma of the church.

  • We protested heavily, and even got pretty major media coverage. We reached out to local Christian groups, and they actually came out. About half of our group were theists. Estimated 70 total people came out, and there was no in-fighting.

    I’m a hardline atheist – so this surprised me. When local atheist groups have the “hammer” VS “interfaith” talk, it can get heated. I always refused to just tick one box. This time, the interfaith angle worked – but the atheists clearly led this charge… and made friends doing it.

  • Marco Conti

    Like what? The USSR? North Korea? China? So what? I just read the other day that in North Korea there is an ongoing mythology about the “Dear Leader” that everyone will recognize as completely religious. 
    There is immaculate conception, death and resurrection, angels, you name it, they used it. 
    These “atheistic” governments you refer to were atheistic only insofar as needing to take organized religion out of the picture so they could substitute their own mythologies and their own gods.

    Only someone with a Reader’s Digest education would believe the fallacy that any dictatorship could be godless. Some have used god to legitimize the dictator and make him god’s emissary, others have simply taken god’s place in the country’s mythology. 

    In reality, there are plenty of “atheistic” government where religion is reduced to a supporting role at best. Most of the social democratic countries of northern Europe have godless politicians and make laws and govern not based on scripture but based on secular mandates. They may not proclaim to be atheistic because they don’t need to; their citizens have grown apart from religion and no longer want it to stain their public discourse. Yet, no one is being persecuted, no one is being killed. Those are the secular government that best represent the humanistic ideals. Substituting one god for another is an old trick and does not make a country “atheistic”. 

  • They’ve commented on it. One person even defended football coaches punching male students, and smacking their helmets… I kept thinking about all my friends with mTBI (moderately traumatic brain injury) from IED blasts.

  • Stev84

    Stalinism and Maoism very personality cults too. Complete with very literal leader worship. North Korea just takes its reverence even further, complete with godlike rulers who are given their positions for eternity after they die

  • Onamission5

    Too many people equate discipline with physical and emotional violence. To me, that’s abuse, whereas discipline means treating your children like people– having clear expectations, being consistent, and allowing for mistakes, both theirs and your own.

    It boggles my mind that adults hitting children is acceptable if framed as “discipline” while adults hitting other adults is a punishable crime called assault. If it’s illegal for your boss to do it, if it’s illegal for your spouse to do it, then why isn’t it illegal for your parent to do it?

  • Edmond

    That’s basically the theist position–everything came from magic, by magic. That’s not really an explanation, it’s a cop out. The truth is, NO ONE KNOWS where everything came from or how it got here, prior to the big bang. So, when someone asks you where everything came from, the correct answer is “I don’t know”. There isn’t any reason to pick one set of myths over all other myths, and over the scientific knowledge of reality and nature.

    As for those “Militant Atheists in the last century”, hopefully you’ll join us in THIS century for a departure from that kind of absolutist totalitarianism. Maybe you missed the comment from Michael, above yours, which reads:

    “Generally speaking, governments who need to state the religious views of their entire membership, including needing to call themselves atheists, are best avoided. The sane ones admit that religious belief/nonbelief is not something for governments to get involved in.”

    This means that governments should NOT be announcing that they have an “official” religion, or that atheism is the “official” recognized belief. This puts them in a position of dictating their citizens beliefs TO them, which is wrong.

    Atheists today (lovingly known as NEW Atheists) support a SECULAR government, which is religion-neutral. Governments should not be telling people what to believe, or punishing them for believing the “wrong” thing. An “officially” atheist government would be just as bad an idea as an “offically” Christian government.

    But wherever the universe came from, we aren’t provided any real answers by simply assuming that stories about talking animals and magic powers are true. Not when the world is SO full of so MANY of such stories. Not when reality tells us that these events can’t and don’t happen. We have to be able to be objective about our own beliefs, look closely at the evidence, and banish assumptions.

    Atheists don’t want to kill anyone. Those were the actions of dictators who placed themselves in position of unquestionable authority, and who insisted on nationwide obedience. Atheists only want a nation that operates fairly and equally for EVERYONE, regardless of what their personal beliefs are (which they should be free to have and to practice within the scope of their own lives).

  • Onamission5

    My parents used four objects for varying degrees of “offenses” and this was back in the 70’s and 80’s:

    Their hand
    A wooden spoon
    A leather belt
    A leather fly swatter with a metal handle, stitched together with rawhide

    These would be employed in spates of two swats, four, or up to six, either on a clothed bottom or a bare one, depending on how much they wanted us to be humiliated, I mean, how angry they were, I mean how much discipline was needed. Taking a potato chip without asking = two swats with hand on clothed bottom. Lying to stepdad = as many as six swats on bare bottom with leather flyswatter. Didn’t matter if it was public or private. Parents who publicly spanked their children at our church were *praised* for raising godly offspring.

    All it did for me was make me hate my parents, not trust them, make me a very angry child who ended up self-harming at a young age in order to release my anger, and fear getting caught ever being anything other than 100% obedient, because everyfuckingthing was a spanking offense.

    I’m 41, and I’m STILL pissed about it.

  • Edmond

    See, after all his wrist-cracking and punching and discipline, what does this jackass hope will happen?  That no one will ever be gay again?  Does he think he’s “cured” homosexuality?  A little roughing-up, and no one develops same-sex attraction?  He’s only going to be encouraging exactly what happened to you.  Hatred for their violence.  Mistrust from misplaced attempts at discipline.  Spanking and bruises and harsh treatment will do NOTHING to stop a homosexual child from developing into a homosexual adult.  But those things WILL stop a child from feeling love and respect for a parent who doesn’t know what the hell they’re doing.

  • Onamission5

    “racked up by fascist, communist, totalitarian dictatorships”
    Tthere I fixed it for you.

  • Patterrssonn

    By everyone I assume you’re referring to those who believe in the talking snake. Though I imagine there are some who don’t believe in the talking snake but have no grasp of history either.

  • Marguerite

    “Spanking and bruises and harsh treatment will do NOTHING to stop a homosexual child from developing into a homosexual adult.”

    Very true, but it may very well create a homosexual adult who is too afraid of or angry with his/her parents to come out of the closet to them. This may create the illusion (to idiots) that you can often “cure” homosexuality by whacking it out of your children.

  • Patterrssonn

    It’s a science thing you wouldn’t understand. Well you could if you wanted to but then you’d have to give up on the whole talking snake thing.

  • TiltedHorizon

     This is the kind of stuff I like to hear.

  •  Obviously Christians support bullying and abuse–so long as it’s Christians who are doing the bullying/abuse.

  • If nothing else there should be a few No True Scotsman wailers around, but we have nothing.  Fascinating.

  • Ndonnan

    Well good morning Tilt,i would hate to dissapoint you,i have been reading with interest how a topic can go from disciplining a child to genocide on a world scale but that often happens here eh!Raising children is as much a daunting task as it is awsome.It exposes our own failings more than anyother relationship but also our qualitys.I have no problem with giving a young child[under 10]a small smack on the hand or bottom,having said that,i only smacked one of my children once, its not that they were angels but me being tired and them being annoying isnt grounds for a smack.As has already been stated so well by Randell,discipline is very similar to desciple  and i agree this is the best way to raise children,by being an example, this is also where our own faults come to the surface.People who still are angry at their own pearants now start to understand why they did what they did,and if you now feel they were wrong ,fine, now its your turn,lets see how yourown children judge you[because they will]My brother is agnostic,never smacked,has a lesbian and a gay and is devestated,my father in law never smacked,is agnostic and has 3 children who carnt stand him.There is no right and wrong,we all have to work it out for ourselves but my brother thinks he should have used some of Mr. Harriss advice and i never would…….. does this break the silence enough for you Tilt???

  • *sigh* Can we get a transcript, please?

  •  …borderline?

  • Onamission5

    Your brother is highly misguided if he thinks that hitting children has any influence whatsoever on their future sexual orientation. I pity him that he takes their orientation as some sort of failure on his part.

  • amycas

    Fuck you. You’re little tirade about Sam Harris has absolutely nothing to do with this thread. If you’re pissed about something Sam Harris did, then go to his blog and comment/email him about it.

    I don’t normally swear much in my comments here, but I hate when theists jump into a conversation and take everything off-topic.

  • Exactly! There are millions of parents who use non-violent discipline. My parents managed to raise my brother and me without ever once hitting us or threatening to hit us. All the research says that non-violent discipline is effective and carries none of the risks of hitting children to get them to behave.

    Incidentally, even though they are in the minority, some conservative evangelical parents are fighting back against the “spare the rod, spoil the child” rhetoric that people like Harris, Dobson, Pearl, etc. espouse. Gentle Christian Mothers is one group that takes an anti-corporal punishment stance.

  • amycas

    Um, hitting your children is only one form of abuse. There are many other ways to abuse your children without having to hit them that can lead to their hatred of you later in life.

  • Patterrssonn

    ” If they would just give up their Jewishness people would quit picking on them.”  Isn’t that essentially your religion, except god for people?

  • Slickbrotherj

    Be mindful that the price of evil or negative thinking may result in a lost soul …you see evil is sweet… very sweet …thus correct your child by any reasonable means necessary or risk losing that child to the lies of the devil. That is all I got from his message. To be a child of God and not hate evil is to condone it. To take him literally is to not understand the point of the depth of the battle between Good and evil. The bible says if your right eye offends thee pluck it out. Is that much different from the message he preached ? Oh …no one questioned that eh ? Mind you this is true in this battle of good and evil ..when the sinner is faced with an eternity of separation from God and his angles, any act of tuff love will be well welcomed by the sinner after the fact. But then it may be too late. Note well I am wise I speak the truth. All of you critics stop the crap and wake up. Please !!!

  • Verimius

    The quote, “spare the rod spoil the child” is not in the Bible. The closest the Bible comes is Proverbs 13:24,”He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”

    The “spare the rod” quote comes from a 17th century poem called Hudibras by Samuel Butler. In the context of the poem, the saying can have only have a lewd connotation. Either the “rod” is spared to prevent conception, or the child Eros/Cupid is spoiled for the lack of flagellatory delights.

  • TiltedHorizon

     “does this break the silence enough for you Tilt?”


    The challenge was to “support your fellow Christian or condemn him” instead of condoning with silence. The only statement you offer in regards to my call to action is to say ” i never would”. Three words. I consider the silence undisturbed.

  • Really?

    Look I am a Christian straight male and I can’t believe these people call themselves Christian and actually think their actions are glorifying God. 
    These people say that being gay is a sin and that gays are going to hell because of it. For arguments sake lets just agree that being gay is a sin. Then as a Christian I say to them welcome to the club. Look Christianity 101 teaches that we are all sinners no matter how hard we try not to because we are imperfect. Fortunately it also teaches that Jesus was crucified and died for the sins of all mankind. Sin does not send you to hell, you will be judged on your heart/soul.

  • The bit at the end on “tolerant intolerance” got me :’)

  • Jenni

    This man cannot be a real Christian, he has no clue what Jesus would do. This man would have stoned the woman caught in adultery.

  • Searching

    I am a gay male raised as Christian.I want to thank you for your measured and gracious words.I cried when I read them for reasons I can’t even fully understand.I just know that in these volatile and confusing times,allies are more important than ever!

  • Timteblow

     It’s almost as slimy as posting a rant under an assumed name under the pretense of honor and righteousness.

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