CNN Belief Blog looks at the hateful. anti-gay rhetoric that come from the pulpits of some American Protestant churches and the discomfort this causes both gay activists and conservative Christians.
Three troubling images have made the rounds over the last few weeks: a little boy in a church service sang ""Ain't no homo gonna make it to heaven;" North Carolina Pastor Charles Worley preaching that lesbians and gay men should be fenced in and left to die out; and Kansas Pastor Curtis Knapp said the government should kill homosexuals. Videos of these hateful words were all posted on YouTube and drew outrage and condemnation from gay rights supporters.
But, as Richard Allen Greene reports, they also left many conservative Christians uncomfortable.
One leading expert on American Protestantism has a simple explanation for why some pastors preach against homosexuality while others go further, encouraging violence against gay people.
"There is a significant percentage who think it's a sin," Ed Stetzer said of homosexuality. "And there are a small minority who are stupid."
Stetzer is president of LifeWay Research, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Worley and Knapp both belong to Independent Baptist churches and are not part of the Southern Baptist Convention, which is the second largest Christian denomination in the United States.
Many conservative Christians would agree with pastors such as Worley and Knapp that homosexual behavior is fundamentally wrong, Stetzer said.
But that doesn't mean they support them or their sermons, he added.
"If you asked, they would say that's really unhelpful and stupid," he said.
Others say that the words are much more than stupid.
...the Rev. Robin Lunn said these preachers are much worse than that. She calls such pastors "genocidal."
"If someone is talking about rounding up me and all my kind in a pen, what is the difference between that and what is happening in Syria and Sudan and what happened in Germany and Poland during World War II?" asked Lunn, executive director of the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists.
"We are talking about people who believe somehow that the Second Coming is connected to a Final Solution," said Lunn, a lesbian, using the Nazi term for the mass murder of Jews in the Holocaust.
"I think these men expressed something that many Baptist preachers think," Lunn said. "We need to stand up and denounce this powerfully."
Her group campaigns for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inclusion across all Baptist churches. It has its origins in the American Baptist Churches movement but is not connected to any one Baptist group or denomination, she said.