A Tea Party candidate running for office in Oklahoma has faced a fierce backlash after he appeared to endorse stoning gay people to death.
Last year, Scott Esk, reportedly responded to a friend’s Facebook post about the Pope’s stance on gay people by copying and pasting Bible verses including Leviticus 20:13.
The passage describes homosexuality as “detestable” and demands gay people be “put to death”.
When asked by another Facebook user whether he supported executing homosexuals by stoning, Esk apparently replied: "We would be totally in the right to do it."
“That goes against some parts of libertarianism, I realise, and I’m largely libertarian, but ignoring as a nation things that are worthy of death is very remiss.”
This week, the Oklahoma magazine Moore Monthly uncovered the posts from 2013, and invited Esk to clarify his position.
Stoning gay people, Esk said in a phone interview, was “done in the Old Testament under a law that came directly from God” he said, adding: “And in that time there it was totally just. It came directly from God.
“I have no plans to reinstitute that in Oklahoma law. I do have some very huge moral misgivings about those kinds of sins.”
Esk continued: “I know what was done in the Old Testament and what was done back then was what’s just... And I do stand for Biblical morality.”
According to his website, Esk is "100% Pro-Life," "100% Pro 2nd Amendment" and "100% Traditional Family Values."
While Oklahoma is a largely conservative state, Rob Morris, the publisher of Moore Monthly, said he had never met any other Oklahomans who held views comparable to Esk’s.
“Even people that don’t agree with things like gay marriage... nobody wants the death penalty for gays,” Mr Moore told RawStory.com.
Oklahoma introduced a ban on same-sex marriage in 2004. The law was overturned in January 2014 by a federal judge in Tulsa, who declared the ban unconstitutional.
In February, the Kansas House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow businesses and state government employees to deny services to same-sex couples if “it would be contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
And Esk is not the only politician this week to make controversial comments about homosexuality.
Speaking in San Francisco on Wednesday, Texas Gov Rick Perry compared homosexuality to alcoholism, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
"Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that," Perry said when asked if he believed homosexuality is a disorder. "I may have the genetic coding that I'm inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way."