Originally posted: May 27, 2012, 7:44 a.m.
Last updated: May 27, 2012, 6:41 p.m.


Newton Protest

Protesters and anti-LGBT counter protesters engaged in heated debate at Sunday’s event. Click here to see more photos on Facebook.

NEWTON, N.C. — Over 1,000 people gathered in this small town about an hour outside Charlotte on Sunday to protest what they called messages of hate by Maiden, N.C. Pastor Charles Worley, whose comments at Providence Road Baptist Church during a sermon on May 13 made headlines last week.

Worley said he had “figured a way out – a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers.”

“Build a great big, large fence — 50 or a 100 miles long — and put all the lesbians in there,” Worley told his congregants. “Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals — and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out. Feed ‘em. And you know in a few years, they’ll die out. You know why? They can’t reproduce.”

Comments from a 1978 sermon by Worley also raised eyebrows. Posted by the church, the old sermon included comments from Worley that “Forty years ago they would’ve hung [homosexuals], bless God, from a white oak tree!”





Organizers had told media they were expecting 2,000-5,000 protesters, which prompted them to move from their original protest location at Worley’s church to the Catawba County Government and Justice Center. Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid told qnotes that he estimated attendance at anywhere from 1,400-1,600. He said every spot in the government center parking lot had at one time been filled. The lot holds 675 cars, Reid said, noting that many vehicles had come with at least two passengers.

At a morning press conference, protest organizer Laura Tipton said she hoped to send a message of love. She also addressed reports of an attempted arson at Providence Road Baptist Church, where someone attempted to set fire to the building’s power box.

“As a group, we condemn that act,” Tipton said. “We’re promoting peace, love and acceptance. We publicly condemn any violence directed toward Providence Road Baptist Church or its members.”

Mike Mannarino, president of the local Catawba Valley Pride, said he was “outraged” at Worley’s comments.

“Don’t fence me in,” he said. “I demand a public apology.”

Those gathered to protest were vocal, and the scene grew quite raucous at times as a few dozen counter-protesters mingled with the crowd. Protesters chanted slogans like “Love, not hate,” and sang in masse “Jesus Loves Me” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children” to drown out the intermittent preaching and jests.

Earlier in the day, one counter protester was caught off guard when a peacekeeper working with protest organizers to keep participants separated from counter protesters saw someone he recognized. The peacekeeper told qnotes that one of the counter protesters, a man in his mid-20s or early-30s, once hit on him at a local adult bookstore. The counter protester denied the accusation while holding a sign that condemned gays. The counter protester left the protest early.

Despite the size of the protest and the presence of counter protesters, law enforcement officials reported that participants on both sides of the issue remained peaceful though some had to be calmed down after a few heated arguments and debates. Catawba Sheriff Reid said there had been no arrests or other disturbances save one warning citation issued to an anti-gay street preacher for a violation of a city noise ordinance.

A total of 50 law enforcement personnel were on hand Sunday, including officers from the Catawba County Sheriff’s Department, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and from the police departments in Newton and Lincolnton.

Reid also noted there were no health or medical emergencies. Protest organizers have been distributing free bottles of water to participants.

As the protest drew to a close, Tipton said she believed they had gotten their message across “loud and clear.”

“I hope that the LGBT community and anybody that is different and considers themselves an outsider knows that there is support and love for them,” she said. “I hope they know that in a small community, if this many people will come out to support them, they have love and acceptance everywhere.”

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

7 replies on “Over 1,000 gather in Newton to protest anti-gay preacher’s comments”

  1. This was an amazingly well organized protest. The energy from the crowd was that of love. There were only a small number of counter-protesters. I would say that there were more than just 500 people there… I would estimate at least 800-1000. The City of Newton officials and Catawba County should be commended on the success of this event. Thank you all!

  2. Props to the Cops!, for being respectful of everyone, keeping things orderly, and making the Justice Center a safe place. This was an amazing day of good energy! Sure, there were a few haters, but they will “die out” pretty soon. There were 5 in our car…definitely over a thousand turned out.

  3. ‘religious’ homophobic haters are antiChrist who do not believe or pretend to believe in Jesus Christ but do not acknowledge Christ for saying that His 2 commandments to love God and to love thy neighbor as thyself, are the highest of all biblical laws. The antiChrist, like the devil, is a master of quoting biblical verses except those 2 top commandments of love from Christ, they avoid using Christ’s name but use other names, even ‘God’, to bring all sort of biblical verses or ‘facts’, to lie and to prove their disagreements about Christ and his commandments of Love. AntiChrist deceive people that those 2 commandments of love were not above all laws for Christians.

    The issue of homosexuality among any other issues is a test of the Christian faith on that choice of who they really believe in the end, to love (stay with Christ and follow His commandments of love) or to hate (succumb to temptation of verses NOT from Christ and his top commandments and to justify their hatred, a deja-vu of story of Eve falling into temptation by satan the snake with the apple for the ‘gift’ of ‘knowledge’ and ignoring their true God).

  4. Pastor Worley doesn’t know much about human reproduction. He says to put all the lesbians inside that electrified fence. Then throw in all the homos and queers. They’ll soon die out because they “can’t reproduce”. They can’t?? Ever hear of bisexuals, Rev? Even just for the sake of increasing the population for the hell of it, gay guys will have sex with gay gals. You know what will happen? They will have CHILDREN! – Mostly straight. But best of all, they won’t hate gays. And poor Rev will just have to make the fenced-in area bigger and bigger. Then there’s feeding all those added people. Start increasing the collections, Revvy-poo…

  5. Hey, could you make the videos a little smaller? I can still make out that it has people in it. Srsly!?!?! The fucking videos are so small, you can’t even click the button to make them bigger because it’s so fucking small!!

  6. Matt, another wonderful article.

    I am very thankful we all rode together, and experienced the entire few hours of LOVE. Yes there was crazy anti protestors, but for the most part, we won the day, with one man who crossed over. I really wish we had stopped and spent some time talking to him. I will do my best to track him down, I know he was interviewed by a few people with cameras.
    Peace Love Happiness! to everyone in our community, and beyond !


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