On May 13, Pastor Charles Worley, of the Maiden, North Carolina, preached a sermon in which he said he had a “solution” to the gay problem. In essence, he said lesbians should be put in one concentration camp, and gay men in another, and in time there would be no more homosexuals, because they would be unable to reproduce. Aside from the obvious flaw in his reasoning – it’s somehow not heterosexuals who keep making more homosexuals – the anti-gay preacher seems oblivious to the images of the holocaust such language stirs.
Estimates are that up to 15,000 homosexuals were put to death in Nazi concentration camps during World War Two. The hateful notion of gays and lesbians herded up and put inside electrified fencing, waiting to die, is something one would not expect of a person whose job is to preach the word of a supposedly loving “God”. Perhaps the preacher forgot about the “love thy neighbor” part of his “Good Book”. (Perhaps not, however. That particular book, like so many others, has also been used to justify atrocities across the centuries, and hatred today. Mr. Worley may simply be carrying on a long tradition.)
On Sunday, May 27, 2012, a crowd estimated at near 2,000 gathered along Newton’s Southwest Boulevard, on the grounds of the Catawba County Justice Center, to send a message to Pastor Worley and his church. Originally to take place at the church, the event was moved to the Justice Center property due to expected crowd size, and the church’s threat to have any protestors on their property arrested. About 50 counter-protesters gathered across the street, to support the sermon.
Catawba Valley Citizens Against Hate member Laura Tipton (who organized the protest) contacted Worley, who, according to Tipton, said he had used poorly chosen words, but did not apologize for the sermon. (Shades of Mitt Romney’s “I would not have used those words” comment on Rush Limbaugh’s calling Sandra Fluke a slut.)
Such language and themes from the pulpit can drive some to react with violence. It’s not surprising that someone on Saturday night set a fire under one of the Church’s air conditioning units. The damage was minor, and did not prevent the Church from holding services Sunday. Although rightly denounced as unacceptable by protest organizers and participants (and Queerlandia.com), it’s not difficult to see how the continued intolerance and hatred aimed at a minority could spark some to violent reaction. The non-violent protest, and resulting publicity, are far more successful, and humane, than any violent action could ever be. While the right-wing blogosphere may concentrate on the arson and gloss over or ignore the 2,000 protesters, the major coverage will be the size and visibility of the protest.
The pastor preaches a gay holocaust while protesters exercise peaceful speech. Who really expresses the love of Jesus?
See the Hickory Daily Record for more on this event.