Nearly 1,000 people are expected to attend Sunday’s protest against Maiden pastor Charles Worley’s Mother’s Day sermon on how to exterminate homosexuals.
Hickory resident Laura Tipton, a 24-year-old social work major at Appalachian State University, told the Times-News Wednesday that she immediately organized the protest after watching the pastor’s recent sermon, which was first uploaded to both the church site and YouTube. The church has since removed the video from its site.
“Once I saw the video and realized just how heinous this man’s comments were is when I decided something needed to be done,” she said. “I was disgusted, shocked, horrified — I’m sure I could come up with a few more adjectives.”
Worley is pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Maiden.
In addition to her outrage, Tipton admitted that more than anything, she felt sad.
“I was saddened that somebody actually believed this way,” she said.
In the video, which has already been viewed more than 100,000 times, Worley proposed a plan for killing off all homosexuals, suggesting that both “lesbians” and “queers,” be placed inside a giant, electrical fence “so they can’t get out.” He went on to suggest that his congregation vote President Barak Obama out of office in the upcoming election, calling him a “baby killer” and “homosexual lover.”
After organizing the protest, Tipton said she began hearing from members of Catawba Valley Citizens Against Hate (CVCAH), who eventually helped her spread word of the event. She later joined the group.
According to the group’s Facebook page, CVCAH is a peaceful, “grassroots initiative to fight back and end hate” in the community. The page further described the group as advocates against bigotry and hatred “in any form.”
Tipton said she’s never before organized such an event and has been stunned by people’s overwhelming response, both locally and nationally, particularly from the Christian community.
“I figured if I sent it out to news stations that because of Amendment One, I would get some comments,” she said, “but never imagined it would get this kind of attention. It’s great to see people coming together. This kind of hate speech needs to stop.”
CNN has also been spotted filming in Catawba County.
“This has gone much bigger than Pastor Worley at this point,” she said.
Tipton originally wanted to hold the protest in hopes that Worley would apologize or recant his statements, something she said he’s yet to do. Now, she anticipates that the event will show the nation that one pastor’s viewpoints do not represent that of an entire state population.
“North Carolinians don’t all think this way,” she said, “and it’s time to take our state back.”
Other groups, ones backing Pastor Worley and his 300-member congregation, are also planning to attend Sunday, including Pastor Billy Ball of Faith Baptist Church in Primrose, Ga.
Ball told the Times-News Thursday that he and some of his church members have been in and around Maiden since mid-week, handing out Gospel tracts and preaching the Word of God.
While Ball did note that he is in full support of Pastor Worley and his church, he felt that the Maiden pastor could have better conveyed his opinion.
“I agree with the Word of God that sodomy is an offense,” he said, “but how he (Worley) accomplished it (sermon) could be debated…What I can’t stand is when we represent the Word of God but aren’t specific.”
Ball went on to say that most Christians would agree that the book of Leviticus “talks about capital punishment or death for the sin of sodomy.” In addition, he pointed out that in Romans, the Apostle Paul wrote that those who commit homosexuality “are worthy of death.”
“It’s a very serious abominable offense,” Ball said. “It may sound radical, but the same God in the end times, when people stand before Him, will cast everyone who’s lost, gay or not, into the lake of fire. It’s not about rounding them (homosexuals) up and putting them in camps.”
A statement on the homepage of Faith Baptist Church’s website implores all Christians to “pray for Pastor Charles Worley and the people of Providence Road Baptist Church.” The site goes on to say that the Catawba County “church has come under attack by the media” and that the United States is a “sodomite-loving country.”
While Tipton noted that Worley canceled his Sunday church services for this week, Ball mentioned that during a recent conversation with the local pastor, Worley confirmed that he still plans to preach.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), based in Madison, Wis., whose mission is to protect separation of church and state, recently issued a statement to all media outlets that Worley’s comments along with his politicking against the president violate the church’s tax-exempt status.
FFRF has asked the IRS to launch an investigation into the matter and determine whether or not the Maiden church did in fact sanction against certain political candidates.
“The IRS should take appropriate action to remedy any violations that occurred,” the release said.
Tipton isn’t concerned about Christian radicals and other opponents ganging up on her Sunday.
“We’re going to outnumber them to an extreme amount,” she said.
She also reminded the public that that the protest is meant to be both peaceful and non-violent.
“Emotions are going to be involved,” she said, “and people are going to get vocal.”
Tipton spoke with Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid earlier in the week to get as much law enforcement presence at the protest as possible to keep the crowd safe.
Reid said he does plan to amp up officer presence at the event, but for “security reasons,” couldn’t relay the exact number of officers that will be on hand.
Catawba County officials first denied protesters access to the Justice Center site for the event, stating that the site must be booked by application two weeks in advance.
According to a press release from the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF), the CVCAH contacted the foundation, who in turn, “raised concerns to (county) officials about the constitutionality of the county’s ordinance.”
The state foundation was ready to take legal action, the release said, until all parties reached a settlement late Thursday.
The protest is currently set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday on the Justice Center lawn in Newton.