A North Carolina church pastor’s call for gays and lesbians to be fenced in so they can eventually die off has triggered outrage among gay-rights and anti-hate groups, with one local citizens organization planning a protest in response.
The Catawba Valley Citizens Against Hate said it was organizing a peaceful protest against Pastor Charles Worley on Sunday in front of Providence Road Baptist Church just outside Maiden, N.C., “to tell the world that hate is not welcome in our community.”
The group said the protest would be “in the ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King and Gandhi.”
“We will not scream, shout or taunt Pastor Worley or his church’s members,” it said on its Facebook page.
The protest organizer, Laura Tipton, who lives in nearby Hickory, N.C., said she's gotten a tremendous outpouring of support and now expects "400 or more" people to attend.
"I think the message needs to get out, especially because this is a North Carolina church and North Carolina has gotten a very bad rap," Tipton told msnbc.com. "I think it's important that people know that not all of us feel this way, that there is support for the LGBT community in this state."
Worley’s Mother’s Day sermon suggesting that “lesbians and queers” should be rounded up to die off touched off a firestorm after a video of it was posted on YouTube this week by the Catawba Valley citizens group.
The 71-year-old Worley delivered the sermon on May 13, apparently in response to President Barack Obama’s public endorsement a few days earlier of same-sex marriage. Just a day before Obama’s announcement, North Carolina voters approved by a considerable margin a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and same-sex civil unions in their state.
In the sermon, an animated Worley told the congregation of his independent Baptist church:
“I figured a way out, a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers but I couldn’t get it pass the Congress – build a great big large fence, 50 or a hundred mile 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.
And you know what? In a few years they will die out. You know why? They can’t reproduce. If a man ever has a young'un, praise God he will be the first.”
Worley continued, his voice rising: “I tell ya right now, somebody said, 'Who you gonna vote for?' I ain’t gonna vote for a baby killer and a homosexual lover! You said, ‘Did you mean to say that?’ You better believe I did!”
Worley could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. Calls to the church office rang busy.
The church, which is not related to the better-known Providence Baptist Church of Charlotte, originally placed the video on its website but later removed it. The website could not be accessed for much of Tuesday, possibly due to server overload.
Gay-rights supporters and others were quick to denounce Worley.
"I am not part of LGBT community. I am an ally, a heterosexual," said Tipton, a social work student at Appalachian State University. "Whether you are straight or gay, people need to stand up against these messages of hate."
An online petition started by Adam Eyster of Los Angeles called for Worley to step down as pastor.
“This is hands down one of the MOST offensive things I have heard in my time of the LGBT rights movement,” Eyster wrote.
Another petition started by Robert Hare of Jacksonville, Fla., urged state and federal prosecutors to charge Worley with “inciting to commit mass murder”:
"Freedom of speech or religion is one thing, but when you are exhorting people to 'help in the effort to find the best way of killing every gay person on the planet' you have clearly taken a giant step across the line."
And in a post on MadMikesAmerica, blogger Erin Nanasi wrote:
“Pastor Charles Worley is yet another argument for the abolishment of religion. The evil that pervades the minds and hearts of some of the holiest of the holy, the preachers, priests, reverends and pastors will sicken the most hardy among us and the evil that is Charles Worley stains Christians everywhere, but particularly the congregation of the Providence Road Baptist Church, who applaud the venom that spews from the mouth of this monstrous man."