A Tea Party candidate running for office in Oklahoma has appeared to endorse the practice of stoning gay people to death.
Last year, Scott Esk, who is in the race to represent the 91st district in the State House, 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, which 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, Mr Esk replied: “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 Mr Esk to clarify his position. Stoning gay people, Mr 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.”
Mr 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.”
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 Mr 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. His decision was stayed, pending an appeal. Earlier this year one Oklahoma Republican, state Representative Mike Turner, suggested the state do away with all marriages, including heterosexual marriages, saying it was the only way to keep same-sex marriage illegal while also upholding the US Constitution.
Though there is no recent polling readily available on the level of support for same-sex marriage in the state, The Atlantic magazine has estimated, based on existing data that, in 2012, 35 per cent of Oklahomans supported same-sex marriage.
The revelations regarding Mr Esk’s views came in the same week that a Tea Party candidate caused a huge upset at the national level. David Brat, a 49-year-old libertarian economics professor from Randolph Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, defeated Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in their Virginia primary race, becoming the first primary challenger ever to oust a sitting House Majority Leader. After his victory was announced, Mr Brat celebrated by waving a piece of paper in the air, on which was written a bible verse.
He told a cheering crowd: “Jesus replied, ‘What is impossible with man is possible with God!’” Mr Brat’s political passion is the relationship between Christianity and capitalism, which he believes are complementary. His views on same-sex marriage remain unclear, but he has previously criticised conservatives for espousing individual liberty while attempting to impose restrictions in areas of social policy, including same-sex marriage. In an essay entitled “God and Advanced Mammon – Can Theological Types Handle Usury and Capitalism?”, Mr Brat wrote: “The political Right likes to champion individual rights and individual liberty, but it has also worked to enforce morality in relation to abortion, gambling and homosexuality.”