Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of Texas tweeted, and later removed, a Bible verse hours after the terrorist attack inside a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 12.
Patrick, who has a history opposing LGBT rights, tweeted Galatians 6:7: "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows," notes the Friendly Atheist.
Many Twitter users took this as a not-so-subtle slam against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community following the worst mass shooting in recent U.S. history.
After removing the tweet, Patrick posted a statement on his website:
"This morning, as every Sunday morning for the past several years, we post a verse from scripture. Those posts are chosen in advance and scheduled in advance.
"As noted to the media earlier, the post from Galatians, that received many hateful comments, was put on the schedule Thursday. Our scripture was not posted in reaction to the shooting.
"I’m actually on an island. The Internet is slow. I first heard of the news late this morning from a reporter. However, the time lag has given me an opportunity to reflect on this tragedy, your comments, our war on terrorism, our divided nation and God’s word for all of us.
"The verse has nothing to do with God’s judgement on any one person or a specific group of people. If some chose to read into it what they wanted they either have never read Galatians Chapter 6 or have misread it."
Galatians 6:8, which follows the verse that Patrick tweeted, names the specific group whom 6:7 was directed towards: "Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life."
"I took it down to stop the hateful comments and the misinformation being spread of God’s message to all of us- straight or gay...
"The hateful comments today following my post of a simple scripture verse, totally unrelated to the terrible killings last night, that were directed at me and God’s word, is another example of that hate. I pray these divisions will end.
"Just as we saw the nation come together after 911 we need to come together again after the largest mass shooting in our history.
"If some insist on hate speech as a response, that is their decision, not mine. The enemy is ISIS, not each other. We must come together to fight them. ISIS believes in the killing of gays. America does not and Christians do not. Let’s focus on the real enemy.
"For those who have never read Galatians 6, here are the first ten verses. Only those who choose hate speech can suggest God’s word was directed at them. It was directed to the church of Galatia as Paul was talking to early Christians about moving from the law of Moses to the new Christian church."
Galatians 6 never actually mentions the "law of Moses" as Patrick said. After stating that the message was specifically written to the church of Galatia, which is true, Patrick made an immediate change to the original audience: "Today God’s message is directed to ALL of us."