By Richard Allen Greene
When a Christian pastor in North Carolina told his congregation on Mother’s Day that the way “to get rid of all the lesbians and queers” was to put them behind an electric fence and wait for them to die out because they couldn’t reproduce, hundreds of people demonstrated against him.
But the protests are not silencing other preachers who believe homosexuality is a sin condemned by the Bible.
Kansas pastor Curtis Knapp went even further Sunday, preaching that the government should kill homosexuals.
“They won’t, but they should,” he said, according to a recording of his sermon posted online.
Like the sermon from Charles Worley at Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, North Carolina, earlier this month, Knapp’s sermon drew an angry response.
His voice mail filled up with messages saying “things you don’t want your kids to hear,” he told CNN affiliate KTKA.
But he is not backing away from his comments.
“We punish pedophilia. We punish incest. We punish polygamy and various things. It’s only homosexuality that is lifted out as an exemption,” he said.
He cited the biblical verse Leviticus 20:13: “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act. They shall surely be put to death.”
But he said gay people had nothing to worry about from the government or from him.
“I don’t believe I should lay a finger against them,” said Knapp, of New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, Kansas. “My hope is for their salvation, not for their death.”
It was not immediately clear if Knapp’s church is part of a broader denomination.
Preaching against homosexuality the same day, another pastor appeared to wrestle with how conservative Christians should respond to proposals that people should literally mete out biblical punishments.
“What about this guy down in North Carolina said build a big prison, a big fence and put them all in there and let them die out?” Dennis Leatherman asked in a sermon at the Mountain Lake Independent Baptist Church in Maryland.
“Listen, I don’t know that fellow. As far as I can tell, he seems like a decent guy, but he is dead wrong on that. That is not the scriptural response,” Leatherman said in his sermon “Homosexuality & the Bible,” according to a cached version of the transcript posted online.
The audio of the sermon does not appear on his church’s website.
In the sermon, he floats the idea of killing homosexuals, whom he refers to as sodomites, then backs away from it.
“There is a danger of reacting in the flesh, of responding not in a scriptural, spiritual way, but in a fleshly way. Kill them all. Right? I will be very honest with you. My flesh kind of likes that idea,” Leatherman said.
“But it grieves the Holy Spirit. It violates Scripture. It is wrong,” he added immediately.
The sermon makes clear that he opposes homosexuality, as he opposes adultery and fornication.
“If a person is living the sodomite lifestyle, they need to become a new creature, because that is perverse,” Leatherman said.
The Southern Baptist Convention distanced itself from Worley’s remarks.
The nation’s largest Baptist group said Providence Road Baptist in Maiden is not affiliated with its 16 million-member denomination and condemned the comments.
But the influential head of the giant movement’s seminary does argue that homosexuality “is the most pressing moral question of our times.”
In a comment piece for the Belief Blog after Worley’s sermon, R. Albert Mohler Jr. dismissed critics who say conservative Christians focus on homosexuality while ignoring other things the Bible prohibits.
He contends that laws about keeping kosher, for example, do not apply to Christians, while commandments about homosexuality do.
“When it comes to homosexuality, the Bible’s teaching is consistent, pervasive, uniform and set within a larger context of law and Gospel,” he wrote.
“Christians who are seriously committed to the authority of the Bible have no choice but to affirm all that the Bible teaches, including its condemnation of homosexuality,” he said.
A member of Worley’s 300-member church defended him in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
“Of course he would never want that to be done,” Stacey Pritchard said of the proposal to put homosexuals behind a fence and leave them there to die out. “But I agree with what the sermon was and what it was about.”