An Open Letter to Pastor Sean Harris Pastor of Berean Baptist Church.

For those of you don’t know who Sean Harris is, he is a pastor from North Carolina. He suggested that if your kid was “acting gay” that they should be given a “good punch”. Here’s a sample


“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, because that is what boys do,’ 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 the next thing you know, this dude, this kid is acting out childhood fantasies that should have been squashed….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. Man up. Give him a good punch. 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.

The LGBT Community has understandably been outraged by this, but my hope is my letter addresses another issue that is important.

This is very personal too me as you will read. But I’m not the only one. 23% of children in Canada are being admitted to being bullied. When someone makes statements like this from a position of authority, they can have a long term impact.

Dear Sean Harris and the Berean Baptist Church.

I’m sure that you have heard much this week about what was said. As a matter of fact, you happened to post the entire sermon on your website. I also listened to the interview you posted in response to the issue. You stated that the opposition has been mostly the LGBT community.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Kevin. I’m from Calgary, Alberta Canada. I’m a Bible-believing Christian. I’m a straight single man.

 After I heard what happened I listened to your entire sermon. While yes the focus in the mainstream media is the “beat the gay” part. That was offensive, but I would like to discuss a couple of other issues with you that I think was missed.

First, more background on who I am. I was brought up with some coordination and disability issues. Those issues unfortunately did not help me in school. Because I was slower, my “manly” skills were not as developed as others.  I’m not a guy who is great at digging ditches, building houses, fixing cars. You know that “man” stuff.   I also wasn’t very athletic. I love sports, but I wasn’t as good as the others. By your account as a “spiritual leader”, I should have been given a “good punch”.

Well, you should know I got what you wanted. Several of them, actually.

I can remember entire classes laughing at my lack of skills. I got into several fights, and lost most of them.

This didn’t help my school work. I failed 2 grades before Grade 9. So I got extra attention for that. I had no self-confidence when I was a kid, and I have battled self esteem issues most of my adult life. To the point now that I can safely say I’m ok now. I’m also a happy single man, because I know that if I was married before, I would not have been a good husband.

This leads me to your sermon.

The LGBT Community should be upset at some of your suggestions, but underneath that issue, you suggested that parents should discipline those that are “different”.

Not the “spare the rod” that the Bible addresses. You want kids that are different to act normal. And the message you are saying has long term actions and effects. 

The boy that is wearing a dress or makeup, may not be gay.

The girl that is wearing “butchy” clothes may not be gay.

The boy that can “dig a ditch” might not be straight.

The girl that “smells like a girl” might not be straight.

The point is they are kids. They may be quite different than what you believe in your map what they should look like. But they are still fearfully and wonderfully made.

And your message to those kids, some that might be in your church, is damaging.

It’s not only kids that are LGBT that could be bullied. I happened to do some research in your hometown and stumbled upon this website There are some testimonies about people that have been bullied. You will note that there is nothing here about sexual orientation. You will also note that they are asking the WWE, not Berean Baptist Church or many churches for that matter to come to the school to address this issue. You mention on the website that you are preaching the gospel.  There are reported 5 million kids affected by bullying in America. Not only in school, there is cyber bullying as well.

Much worse than the sermon, was your apology. You mentioned that you were “just joking”. Funny, that’s what most people who tease others say. I find that doesn’t change the hurt or the wounds.

While, I do not like what you said, I feel like I should address the congregation. I never have been to your church, but I’m really disappointed that they “Amen” your words. I’m extremely concerned that they did. I want you to know, I would have walked out to never return. Just because you have been put in a “spiritual leader” position, it does not mean you get to say what you want. It also doesn’t mean the congregation should accept it either. I’m sure you know well what the Bereans were known for and complimented for by Paul.

You mention on the website that you are preaching the gospel.  You will note in the Gospel, that Jesus was often defending those who were different. Not attacking those who are. I would encourage you to look into this issue in your community and please take it seriously.  

I would also ask, because I know first hand, that you who are in “spiritual authority” and your congregation that clearly supports you consider the words that are being spread. The last place, I repeat the last place anyone should feel the rejection is the one representing Jesus.

Because sticks, stones, and words do hurt.


Kevin Olenick.


5 responses to “An Open Letter to Pastor Sean Harris Pastor of Berean Baptist Church.

  1. Thank you for writing this. And thank you for being able to write it without being malicious. I know I couldn’t have done the same.

    When I listened to his sermon, and part of his “apology” afterward, I was only thinking of the damage it could do to the already well-trampled LGBT community.
    I didn’t even consider its ramifications for straight but different children (and I was one). But you made some very good points. And I really hope he listens.

    • I’m sure it’s most people opinion.But if this doesn’t hit Sean Harris, it might hit someone in the church.

      I myself would not go to his church, I have some concerns. But he has been put in a role, and he will not go away. But he is also accountable to God

  2. This is a brave and needed letter – thank you Kevin. I have many friends and family who are LGBT and I thank you for your comments in defense of not only them, but everyone who has been bullied in their lifetime for all kinds of reasons. I hope this Pastor takes your words to heart and apologizes with more than ‘jk’. I hope his congregation knows that one man’s opinion is not always right. I hope that everyone who has been bullied or told/felt they are not good enough knows and believes that Jesus loves us all and his grace overpowers all other negativity in our lives. Thanks again Kevin.

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