A night to honor the accomplishments of local high school seniors is stirring up controversy in Cleveland County.
Parents contacted WBTV, angry over an “anti-gay” message delivered by a pastor during Kings Mountain High School’s annual baccalaureate service.
Despite the controversy, Pastor Scott Carpenter says he has no regrets.
“Do I hate anybody? Absolutely not. I just love them too much not to tell them the truth,” Carpenter said.
But what Carpenter calls truth is being summed up as something else to Kings Mountain parent Chuck Wilson.
“This is bullying. Bullying doesn’t have to happen from the back hallway of a school or a back parking lot. It can happen from the pulpit, it can happen from the stage,” Wilson said.
Wilson said he was floored when he caught wind of the message delivered during his daughter’s senior baccalaureate service.
A student tells WBTV Carpenter told the audience they would go to hell if they were homosexual.
“It’s a public school. There are children here. I think there should be some level of responsibility of the speaker coming in to not take advantage of a captive audience,” Wilson said.
Wilson says dozens of parents and students were offended by Carpenter’s message, but the interim pastor of Temple Baptist Church doesn’t care.
“Nobody got bashed or anything. All I did was simply speak biblical truth... The number one audience that I have to please is God,” Carpenter said.
The service was held on campus and Cleveland County Schools tells WBTV that was their only involvement in it. They say they had no part in the selection of speakers, which was left up to religious leaders in the community.
The service was optional for students but Wilson says that doesn’t matter.
“It was just simply an inappropriate topic for a baccalaureate service,” Wilson said.
“Was I trying to be mean spirited? Absolutely not. Was I trying to hurt somebody’s feelings? Absolutely not. I was simply had to do what I had to do as a Christian minister,” Carpenter said.
Kings Mountain seniors will walk across the stage later this week, and Wilson hopes the moment isn’t overshadowed by a divine debate. “All that gets washed aside when someone comes in and starts putting people down,” Wilson said.
Cleveland County Schools added they may be more cautious about the selection process of baccalaureate speakers in the future.
WBTV is the Observer’s news partner.