A Republican candidate for the Oklahoma state House has come under fire for comments, unearthed from a 2013 Facebook thread, in which he endorsed stoning gays to death.
In July 2013, Scott Esk — who is running in Oklahoma's state House District 91 — responded to a Facebook user who had posted a link to an article about Pope Francis (headlined “Who am I to judge gay people?”) by quoting from the Old Testament.
"Those who practice such things are worthy of death," Esk wrote. "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death."
Adam Bates, the Facebook user who posted the original article, proceeded to ask Esk to clarify his stance.
"So, just to be clear, you think we should execute homosexuals (presumably by stoning)?" Bates wrote.
“We would be totally in the right to do it,” Esk replied. "That goes against some parts of libertarianism, I realize, and I’m largely libertarian, but ignoring as a nation things that are worthy of death is very remiss."
According to his website, Esk is "100% Pro-Life," "100% Pro 2nd Amendment" and "100% Traditional Family Values."
"I'm not for vigilante 'justice' or hating people," Esk wrote in the same Facebook thread. "The Bible tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves and to hate every false way. I will never try to harm anybody unless he tries to harm me [first], and I perceive that my life or family or property are in danger. And there is little support for re-instating the death penalty for perversions involving consenting adults."
Esk's comments have since been deleted, but can be seen in a screenshot here.
The Oklahoma House Republican primary is slated for June 24.
On Tuesday, the websiteMooreDaily.com asked Esk about his "stoning" stance.
"That was done in the Old Testament under a law that came directly from God, and in that time ... it was totally just," Esk said. "It came directly from God.
"I have no plans to reinstitute that in Oklahoma law," he continued. "[But] I do have some very huge moral misgivings about those kinds of sins."
When pressed, Esk did not back down.
"I know what was done in the Old Testament, and what was done back then was what’s just," Esk added. "I do stand for biblical morality."
As Slate's Mark Joseph Stern points out, Esk’s beliefs about gays "aren’t all that far from the other state-level Republicans in the region."
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."