Responding to Anti-LGBT Rhetoric in N.C.


North Carolina is in the news again, this time because of an anti-LGBT sermon preached by Pastor Charles Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, N.C. You can see footage of his sermon here.

Make no mistake: the violent theology animating Pastor Worley’s sermon is directly linked to the discriminatory animus at work in Amendment One or the North Carolina statutes that treat LGBT people as second-class citizens.

The violence of Pastor Worley’s message speaks to the evil at the heart of persecution, and it ensnares all of us, including him, including me. It is an evil that seeks to dehumanize people and that seeks to divide communities. It has long lurked in the shadows of religious and political discourse and, periodically, makes itself plainly visible and clearly heard.

What are we to do when such attacks occur? Each of us has an individual choice to make about how to respond.

I often need help cutting through the static of anger and sadness in moments like this. I need help getting to love and, in my own life, I turn to my faith for that help. My faith’s teachings on this point are clear and consistent: no matter how hard it is to do so, we are called to love those who oppose us. There are many reasons for this, not least of which is the fact that my existence is inextricably bound to my enemy’s, whether either one of us likes it or not.

The hard thing right now is to find a way to love Pastor Worley. To do so does not also imply condoning or supporting what he has said. But it does mean choosing to respond to spiritual violence with the only force that can overcome it: love. And it means seeing the violence of his words as an expression of how he too has been wounded by a persecuting system; his theology isn’t just plain wrong, it’s wounded.

But my faith also teaches me that the rhetoric of love is not enough. We must also act to directly resist unjust laws in public life and, as we take action, to express empathy and love towards all those we encounter. This is precisely why and how we take action with the WE DO Campaign and why this campaign will continue growing across the South until we achieve full equality under federal law.

Love has changed the world before and, we dare to believe, it can do so again.


  1. shadmarsh says:

    I don’t believe in evil; only in assholes.

  2. Kim G. says:

    One can have empathy for his wounded consciousness and oppose the manifestation of it. One must.

    It’s our responsibility to tell this man the truth about himself because he is clearly unaware of it. How that truth gets told, who can say what way is best? The answer is to do it the best way you know how and leave the rest to him and his maker. Unless he breaks a law.. then call the cops too.

  3. Ascend of Asheville says:

    Another reason religion is like the MRSA infection of human philosophy.

    Most people think we are just doomed to live with the ugliness.

    We wouldn’t have this problem if we hadn’t been hooked on those spiritualism and superstition antibiotics early on, but hey, who knew? We were barely up and walking!

    Now we have no Logic or Reason big and strong enough to kill it easily. We have to change our entire way of being, put up with some discomfort in the short run and slowly wipe Religion from the face of the Earth, not through ever stronger medicine, but in learning how to protect ourselves from such garbage naturally, by building up our immune systems.

    Eventually we may have an antidote, or maybe even a vaccine against it, but in the meantime, we just have to kill it with sarcasm, derision, facts, reality and by showing people everywhere what Religion really is, as opposed to what it claims to be.

    A Colosseum full of lions would be good too.

  4. Andrew Dahm says:

    I come down more on the asshole than MRSA side. Every ideology, including some decidedly secular ones, has at one time or another fallen into the hands of people who would divide, exclude, denigrate and exterminate.

    There are the AlexanderDubcek-PolPot and Anydecentperson-AynRand dichotomies in the non-theistic world, for instance.

    Most of my adult life has involved trying to decide which side of the hyphen to put Malcolm McLaren on, and who’d be on the other.

    Whatever the belief system, whether its predicate is eliminating hypothecated surplus value and rendering its benefits to the proletariat, or, perhaps, re-rendering the world into a loving and caring heaven we’ve never seen, you got to have aspiration. Otherwise you got hate and fear.

    Lions, dunno. Cannons. Definitely cannons.

  5. Tom Sullivan says:

    That man makes me very sad. Welcome to the new, improved NC-10, pastor.

  6. Diogenes says:

    Faith, whatever that is, has got nothing to do with it. This is, and ought to be, a civil matter.

    “As long as we’re talking about “marriage” we’re going to continue to see a stalemate on this issue as those older voters who believe in a traditional, biblical view of sexuality and those who want the basic rights afforded to others all around them each refuse to give an inch.

    So what’s the solution?

    The State needs to get out of the “marriage” business. It should recognize that as long as it uses that term, and continues to privilege certain types of relationships over others this issue is going to divide us as a nation, and is only going to become more and more contentious.

    We need to move towards the system used in many European countries where the State issues nothing but civil unions to anyone who wants them, and then those who desire it may seek a marriage from the Church.”

  7. Tom Sullivan says:

    Thanks, Diogenes. I have a similar piece in the queue, coming from a slightly different direction.

  8. TJ says:

    I agree with Tom.

    My heart hurts when I am reminded that hate so venemous still abounds.

    My latest bumper sticker says, “I can’t believe I am still protesting this crap.”

    While I still feel hope for humanity, as so many great people have emerged. That said, I feel profound sadness to hear those words. It helps to hear people respond. MAYBE, we are at least one tiny step toward hearing a chorus of acceptance over hate.

    If not, maybe I need to find another planet or realm on which to dwell. This one is just overwhelmingly painful.

  9. susan lefevre says:

    This guy is one of the worst examples of a messenger of God.
    God does not like nor dislike gays and lesbians. S/he loves everyone, even this pastor. He just wants us all to be kind and loving to EVERYONE!!!!!

  10. Steve says:


    Very well said and so true. One can’t respond to violent speech/thought threw more violence. This creates a lose-lose situation. Using compassion and love to heal is the most important thing we can do! Thank you for this message!

  11. I am at the breaking point. Perhaps I should have arrived long ago. I’ve tried to do the Coexist thing but these efforts made by me and many other non-believers or secularists are clearly not being reciprocated.

    There’s this Amendment One thing. Abstinence-only sex education just became law in Tennessee. Mississippi passed a de-facto statewide abortion ban. Mississippi is also a state that narrowly rejected a so-called Personhood amendment that would have declared a zygote to be fully human. But expect a Personhood amendment to come soon to a state near you. Finally, lets not forget the recent dust-up over contraception.

    The list goes on. All these things exemplify the worst public policy driven by the best religious intentions through people of faith.

    This childish pastor Charles Worley is merely one small tile in a very large mosaic.

    My apologies to the author of this post, but trying to assess the missteps of the religious through a religious lens is a bit like having the police investigate accusations of police brutality.

    I don’t think I can coexist anymore. I no longer have faith that people of faith are reasonable and wish to coexist rather than impose their beliefs on everyone else.

  12. TJ says:

    The only flickering light I can see here is a thought I had yesterday…

    While the pastor has a rhetoric dangerous to “humanity”(the irony of the word does not escape), I wonder who gave the clip to post on YouTube.
    From personal experience, I have found that many churches make CDs of sermons to give to “shut-in” members of the church, guests and regulars who want to keep the “lessons” for future reference.

    It seems that one of his “true believers” did not like his message, or, a guest that seemed to “fit in” according to their perspective, who warranted a CD, decided it was a little too crazy for them.

    It is a hopeful thought that someone’s conscience is not so completely seared – that they felt compelled to expose him.

    Irony again- I would imagine he has preached more than one sermon about sinners whose conscience is seared by God, and turned over to their “evil desires” while they wait to go to hell. I wonder when HIS conscience was seared to the point he can endorse killing off anyone, when one of the 10 commandments speak specifically against it?

    I wonder if he would have a woman abort a baby, if he knew they would be gay or lesbian? At what point for him, did he decide that “pro-life” is relative?

    All I can say is that I -and he should – thank God I am not in his church.

    @Writ: some of us are every bit as sickened by this as everyone else. At the end of the clip, the man says “it makes me pukin’ sick,” as he wonders if he “ought to say this in the pulpit or not”(asking if they can imagine kissing a ‘fella’), after feeling fine endorsing killing someone, I feel “pukin’ sick,” as well.

    It also disturbs my sleep.

  13. Aaron Sarver says:

    Nice opinion piece in the ACT today from one of the eight individuals who was arrested in Asheville as part of the WE DO campaign:

  14. RHS says:

    A group called Catawba Valley Against Hate is organizing a rally this Sunday to protest the hate speech by the “pastor.”

  15. Julie says:

    I love this “Wickedly Beautiful Response” to Pastor Worley’s ugly words.

  16. TJ says:

    Wow, Diogenes! Stacy sure knows how to defend the pastor, eh? 8-{

    It gives me another great example of why I bother asking questions, knowing they are not always welcome. I still am astounded at the lack of thought people put into their “faith.” Faith in what? If they can’t even respond coherently, I want to know how THEY even know what they believe in??!!

    Thanks for the link.

    I guess I should tell my therapist I must be “better.” Maybe I’m c-r-a-z-y- ;-), but, there’s more evidence that someone left the gate fence around crazy town WIDE OPEN. Where’s the electricity when you need it? I LOVED the comment that someone had enough fencing to put around the pastor!

    Actually, I bet someone here could be creative enough to start a whole new Saturday Night Live routine with all the material popping up lately.

    On the terrifying side…Amendment One passing seems to have given “permission” to all the crazies to let their bigotry out full steam. On the plus side, at least we can see them openly now, and don’t have to guess who we need to deal with.

    MAN!! This whole mess has me feeling like a yo-yo of emotions.