David Pakman | News | Religion | Sean Harris

Progressive Radio Host Rings Anti-Gay Pastor Sean Harris' Church: VIDEO


Radio host David Pakman spent some time discussing Sean Harris, the North Carolina pastor who advocated beating gay children into heterosexuality, and the pastor's church during his radio show this week.

In addition to highlighting the relationship between homophobia, sexism and misogyny, Pakman also called up Harris' church, Berean Baptist Church, and asked whether the church as a whole agreed with Harris' controversial comments.

The answer? Find out AFTER THE JUMP

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  1. Yeah, that's some hard hitting journalism right there. Calling the church and berating the receptionist. I guess next he will call the White House and discuss Obama's position on DOMA with the switchboard operator.

    Posted by: Beef and Fur | May 3, 2012 9:49:05 AM

  2. Beef, your comments are silly. This was a compelling and funny segment, Pakman is a known straight ally for gay rights, and the comparison to a White House switchboard operator is a little silly. That being said, this is certainly not one of his hard hitting interviews with Bryan Fischer or Paul Cameron, but I find it both funny and entertaining.

    Posted by: Alicia Adams | May 3, 2012 9:58:20 AM

  3. yea, that was pretty lame, but I like our young mr Pakman.

    Posted by: Chad | May 3, 2012 10:04:51 AM

  4. The receptionist willingly works for a man who advocates punching children. So Beef and Chad, if you learned your boss was telling people that they should break their kids limp wrists, would you continue to work their and support him or her?

    Posted by: homer | May 3, 2012 10:24:08 AM

  5. Actually, Beef is correct in that the receptionist isn't the person who should field the questions here. However, if the pastor continues to hide from his remarks and put the church's staff in the position of acting as a buffer between the media and himself, then some limited questioning of the only church representatives available seems appropriate. He was respectful enough to her.

    Posted by: The Milkman | May 3, 2012 10:27:03 AM

  6. The receptionist certainly has the ability to say "the pastor's comments do not reflect my view of Christianity, and I will be happy to leave a message for him." Instead, she protected the pastor, and his hate speech, and left both herself and the institution suspect.

    Posted by: Jeff Kurtti | May 3, 2012 10:42:53 AM

  7. When you call the capitol to give your opinions to your elected representatives, you don't harass the staffer who takes the calls, do you? (Maybe you do.)

    The receptionist isn't the spokesperson for the church or the pastor and shouldn't be harassed and goaded into saying something inflammatory and for the sake of a sound bite in lieu of speaking to the person actually responsible for the remarks.

    It's unfair to categorize her as complicit at this point. I'm sure the pastor didn't run the sermon by her for opinion first. It's also unfair to expect someone whose main job has been to route calls and answer questions about hours of services or give directions to suddenly be put in the middle of this and be harassed by random callers.

    If this was a prank call, then he succeeded in his objective, otherwise his actions were unprofessional for a journalist.

    Posted by: Beef and Fur | May 3, 2012 10:43:40 AM

  8. Whatever Beef, let's just be extra nice to the poor staff members who work for people who advocate punching kids. After all, it has worked really well for the Catholic Church, hasn't it?

    People will continue to support these cretins until the social cost is too high. Pakman was much more civil than I would have been. I would have asked her point blank, "What's more important, your paycheck or the basic right of a child to not be abused?"

    Posted by: homer | May 3, 2012 11:05:46 AM

  9. Hey all, Beef makes a valid point, but I think on the whole I was more than civil to her, I told her upfront we were on the air, I didn't berate her or make any personal attacks, and she was free to hang up at any time, which she did. Additionally, given the coverage the call has gotten, many people who otherwise never would have heard of this pastor are now aware of him, and I think the more people that know about him, the better.

    Posted by: David Pakman | May 3, 2012 11:12:06 AM

  10. Having been, and am somewhat now, a receptionist, I can tell you they ARE the fielders of information and the front line to the higher ups in the organization; they field/scan calls, dessiminate information, and act as the public face of the organization. Perhaps small organizations will have the gum-smacking, romance-novel-reading high school student as their receptionist -- but big time organizations require more from them.

    Posted by: woodroad34 | May 3, 2012 11:15:30 AM

  11. @David Pakman

    Wow, never got a response directly from the person who is the subject of the post before. My day will really be complete if Mitt Romney logs in and responds directly to my remarks on those threads. ;-)

    Thank you David, for your remarks, although I do think you were unprofessional for the reasons I stated. I also think Michelangelo Signorille was also unprofessional in his interview of the pastor yesterday on the Signorille show on Sirius OutQ. I agree with several of Signorille’s callers who stated that he wouldn't let the guy answer a question without being interrupted.

    That being said, I don't think this receptionist could have been prepared for the impending firestorm. We don't even know if she was present for the sermon or heard it later. However, I do agree with those who say she should have just offered no comment and directed David to the appropriate individual for comment. But, I do think she was baited into responding and I don't really believe she was prepared or even trained in how to handle this.

    Until David actually interviews the receptionist or the congregants, or until we read their official statements, it's not appropriate to judge these people or hold them responsible for the pastor's remarks.

    To the response above that draws analogy to the Catholic priest scandal, I agree that the crimes committed by the Catholic priests are beyond reprehensible, but I don't hold the part time volunteer parish secretary responsible either.

    Posted by: Beef and Fur | May 3, 2012 11:35:15 AM

  12. Haters Never Prosper!

    This man is such an obvious closet case according to all recent studies of rabid homophobic men. The more homophobic, the more likely the hater himself is gay. What a sad, tortured soul!

    You have to wonder who participated in damaging this man so severely that he believes hatred, violence, cruelty, intimidation, hate crimes, etc., etc., are Christian values. We may be sure that whoever committed this shocking sin against an innocent child believed just as strongly thathe/she/they too were good Christians. This is patently not so!

    The vast majority of Christians are good, decent people trying to make their way through life just like every other one of their fellow human beings

    Posted by: Doug | May 3, 2012 11:51:40 AM

  13. "Would you continue working for someone who advocates beating children"? Well, it happened very recently, and by the reaactions this is the first time it happened, so if it was me I would already be looking for another job. But I would not quit immediately. We all know the state of the job market, so I would find something else as quickly as possible before quitting, and thus keeping myself from financial ruin. Lay off the receptionist, we don't know her story.

    Posted by: Wdeanis | May 3, 2012 12:34:19 PM

  14. Why was my post deleted?

    Posted by: Bobby | May 3, 2012 12:39:03 PM

  15. I grew up in a fundamentalist church. I think fundamentalist pastors are used to saying whatever they want to say with no consequences. They make ridiculously unChristian comments all the time. I remember one time on a Sunday, I was in a van with the youth pastor and others to pick up people for church and he said there was a gay pride parade going through Hartford and asked if we should go "bowling" (i.e., with the van, running over people). I doubt these crazies actually want people beaten and killed, but I do think they are recklessly indifferent to their dangerous words, and certainly not modeling Jesus.

    Posted by: Matt | May 3, 2012 12:43:09 PM

  16. I love David's voice (soooo attractive). I could listen to him all day, every day.

    Posted by: Rodney Wollam | May 3, 2012 1:09:05 PM

  17. @ Beef; I agree that Mr. Pakman didn't berate the receptionist and was, in fact, quite respectful to her. If anything, he made a human error in not guessing that his call on this subject was not the first this receptionist had handled. I thought her responses a bit testy, perhaps defensive, and justifiably so. Her responses also suggest that the pastor has raised some opposition within the congregation and, maybe, the church hierarchy.

    Posted by: Chuck Mielke | May 3, 2012 1:40:40 PM

  18. Good segment. And David Pakman was by no means out of line. He did not attack the receptionist, and kept the focus on the pastor. The receptionist is obviously guarding the pastor, hence him being in a "meeting" all day long and her quick hang ups on people.

    Not once is she willing to acknowledge the violent homophobic comments of the pastor, or transfer a caller to someone who is in a position to discuss the pastors comments.

    Never heard of David Pakman before this, will definitely will be checking out his show.

    Posted by: anony6 | May 3, 2012 1:52:43 PM

  19. Beef--where did he berate anyone?

    Packman does a great thing here. The church can't just pretend that their pastor didn't promote parental violence against gay children.

    Posted by: Daniel | May 3, 2012 1:59:29 PM

  20. Beef & Fur--you do know that this pastor (and by extension his church) promoted beating gay children?

    And how is calling a church to get a response about their pastor beating gay children unprofessional?

    Posted by: db | May 3, 2012 2:01:52 PM

  21. Also, Beef & Fur--you do know that the Obama administration has instructed it's legal dept. to stop defending DOMA?

    Posted by: db | May 3, 2012 2:03:01 PM

  22. Beef, I must have missed the part where Pakman was unprofessional and berated the receptionist. Can you provide examples?

    Posted by: Mick | May 3, 2012 2:40:04 PM

  23. I love David Pakman, and have enjoyed his broadcasts, and I was a little . . . just a very little . . . surprised, like BEEF, that he would spend that much time with the receptionist, but as the interview (if we can call it that) continued I actually think what he was doing was excellent journalism.

    What BEEF, and others, need to know about church receptionists is that they are not your variety-store receptionists, just a slight bump up on the evolution scale of an automated machine, taking messages and connecting you with the appropriate extension.

    They are savvy people, smart, smarter even then the pastors they work for, because they know how to monitor the words coming out of their mouths. A good church receptionist, and listening to that lady I would have to say that she ranks up there with the best of them, has to be a cross between Dana Carvey's Church Lady . . . very smart, somewhat snarky, implacable in their fundamentalism, who does not take BS from anyone . . . and a publicist, properly placed on the front lines of her church to act as a buffer for the chronic stupidity of her loud-mouthed pastor.

    There is nothing innocent about the Berean Baptist Church Lady, so you need not lose sleep worrying about her, BEEF and SUNDRY. She handled David Pakman quite well. One might even think this was not her first rodeo, that she had been on the air before, which is likely when one works for a bigot.

    She knows she works for a bigot, because a savvy person like herself would never unknowingly work for such a person, unless their personalities totally meshed.

    You can be sure if there is any wrist cracking going on in her home, she, not her husband, is the one doing it . . . of course all in the name of Jesus.

    A good Church Lady is quite representative of their pastor, and the personality of their church, but as I said a little smarter, a little more controlled; and though she did a great job deflecting David Pakman's queries, the harsh fundamentalism of Berean Baptist church came through nonetheless.

    The lady was offended rather than concerned . . . and given the seriousness of the questions, that is, of itself, quite telling.

    I came from a fundamentalist church, myself, the Manna church, right across the street from Berean Baptist church. The Manna Church, like Berean Baptist, also had loud-mouthed pastors and preachers, some of them, like Pastor Harris, gung-ho ex-army chaplain's. Listening to that audio, the congregation’s inappropriate laughter at the pastor’s inappropriate commentary really took me back!

    A member of Berean Baptist Church was on Huffington post . . . 1000Cleverboy . . . doing what all good fundamentalists do who have more of a relationship with their pastor than the God they profess to follow, defending the indefensible, defending his pastor.

    "You are taking his words out of context." "You did not hear the full sermon." "We know our pastor, and he was just joking."

    Hmmm . . . we did hear the laughter on the audio.

    "And he apologized," 1000Cleverboy pointed out.

    Clearly, the joke went over many heads. Maybe there was no joke, therefore no punch-line? Maybe the laughing we heard on that audio was the laughter evoked by the imagery of the pastors words, the surprise look of pain, surprise, and feminine anguish on the face of an effeminate little boy who got what he deserved?

    Having subjected myself as a very young man, hungry for love and acceptance, to years of fundamentalist abuses, and reparative therapy, at both the Manna Church, and Berean Baptist Church . . . oh yes! I went to both! . . . I am certain that there was a joke somewhere concealed in the pastor’s sermon. Of course, you would have to be a fundamentalist to appreciate the joke: well versed in the art of calling hate love, and condemnation mercy, ever extolling the virtues of Jesus' love, but forever doling out the wrath of God, and the promises of hellfire!

    And we all can imagine how hilarious hellfire is.

    The thing is even if the Pastor was only joking, as Cleverboy advocates, he has in his care the spiritual well-being of a thousand or more people.

    Fundamentalists are, by their very nature, weak-minded, and are not well known for critical thinking. The even weaker members of that church will have, like many of us, missed the joke, and will take Pastor Harris' words as Gospel.

    I have seen many such jokes played out in the homes of fundamentalist friends: husbands beating their wives . . . beating or belittling their effeminate sons, and I promise you, having, myself, been on the receiving end of a few physical, emotional, and spiritual beat downs, it is no joking matter.

    With great responsibility comes great accountability . . . responsibilities that Pastor Harris, and the not-so-innocent Berean Baptist Church Lady assumed, and when it comes to children, when it comes to vulnerable young men and women in their late teen and twenties, who have suffered past abuses at the hands of fathers and mothers, and older brothers, looking for comfort and healing from churches like Berean Baptist, from pastors like Sean Harris, or even the older, wiser, more mature Christian’s like the Berean Baptist Church Lady, then I SAY put them on the air, and make them account for their words, for their behavior. They would do no less!!

    At least no one is threatening to punch their lights out, not even in jest, and no one is threatening them with eternal damnation.

    Posted by: Ricco | May 3, 2012 3:22:00 PM

  24. One of the things about this story that I haven't seen mentioned (and that might one of my many oversights) is the makeup of the congregation. I'd guess there's likely to be a heavy concentration of military families, given the location. So the comments went out to hearers who might already be inclined to think that corporal punishment is effective, and that any deviation from gender norms is heinous. I don't say that ALL the military folks are brutes and homophobes, but enough are that the pulpit remarks would reinforce beliefs and behaviors that are already in place. A

    An authority figure condones aggression against children. The mindset is in place to accept that.Knowing that, the preacher is throwing sparks at a tinder pile and should have been completely aware what he was doing. His claim of being misunderstood doesn't hold up for me.

    Posted by: gregory brown | May 3, 2012 3:25:36 PM

  25. Please stop with the comments. I am quite aware of what this pastor said as well as being current in the politics of DOMA and other LGBT political issues.

    No matter how you may want to perceive my comments, they are not supportive of, or an endorsement of Harris. So please take your misplaced anger for Harris over to the posts about Harris or direct your comments to his actions, not mine.

    I simply believe that Pakman was unprofessional in his interaction with the church receptionist, who in my opinion and as far as we can tell, has no responsibility to be an official spokesperson, give official statements or has any other part to play in all of this, other than to answer the phones. I simply chose to respond to that instead of commenting on the actions of Harris.

    I concede that berate is too strong of word to use to describe Pakman’s actions. Although it is my opinion that the receptionist was goaded and baited into responding and her terse or defensive demeanor was probably a result of her lack of training or preparation for this firestorm or perhaps her reaction to previous calls and requests for a statement. You may be dealing with someone who is a volunteer and quite different than someone who is employed as a switchboard operator at a fortune 500 corporation. How much crap do you truly expect her to take before she snaps?

    It's quite clear what Harris thinks. His disgusting sermon, followed by his extensive interview on Signorelli's show along with his twisted apology, retraction and rationalization followed by his nutty tweet combined with what appear to several different personas speaks for itself.

    I don't know anything about this church and perhaps I should visit their website to find out if this is a church that Harris created and founded. Otherwise, if Harris is in situation wherein he is employed by this church, through their board of directors as their pastor, then he is simply that, their pastor. He isn’t “the church” - the people sitting in the congregation are and I wonder how they could have sat through all of that without speaking up. Perhaps Pakman can arrange to interview the receptionist or other members of the congregation and then we can truly know what “the church” thinks about the pastor's remarks. Until it becomes clear what this church and further, what their congregants or employees think, I will not hold them responsible for Harris.

    Posted by: Beef and Fur | May 3, 2012 3:28:54 PM

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