Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick drew a firestorm of criticism on Sunday when his account posted a Bible verse stating "man reaps what he sows" just hours after a Florida gay club became the scene of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
The post went up on Facebook and Twitter only hours hours after the devastating news started breaking that at least 50 people had been killed and more than 50 had been injured at a gay club, Pulse, in downtown Orlando, Florida after a gunman attacked and then held the people inside the club hostage starting at 2 a.m. on Sunday.
To be fair, Patrick and other conservative political figures usually share Bible verses on Sunday mornings on their Facebook and Twitter feeds. The posts are scheduled days before and go up automatically. Patrick says this post was scheduled last week.
Unfortunately for Patrick, who is known for taking a fierce, sometimes inadvertently hilarious (like the accidentally pro-gay marriage tweet a couple of years ago) stance against gay rights, his social media shared this Bible verse on Sunday morning: "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows," which is pulled from Galatians, is talking about how God deals with those who sin, and is paired with the image of a freshly plowed field.
Almost as soon as the post went up it was swiftly condemned. The Texas Democratic Party called on Patrick to "apologize immediately." The post was met with sharp, scathing criticism from other people on social media. However, the post was left up for hours despite the instant criticism it garnered before finally being deleted about 11 a.m.
But deleting the post didn't end the swarm of criticism around Patrick. Actress and activist Mia Farrow still had the image and retweeted it, calling for Patrick to delete his Twitter account and resign his office:
Congressman Marc Veasey, from North Texas, posted a tweet basically reminding the rest of the world that "good Texans" are as disgusted with Patrick's post as everyone else is:
Former governor candidate Wendy Davis called his actions in the wake of Orlando "unconscionable":
And even George Takei, the famed actor and gay rights advocate, took Patrick to task for his statement:
At the same time, Patrick's Tea Party buddies and fellow Texas Republicans seemed to be very careful to sound nothing like the lieutenant governor when they issued their own statements about the mass shooting. Apparently they noticed how Patrick was reamed for, well, looking like a judgmental, insensitive, Bible thumping bigot who dismissed the lives lost and the people injured in the Orlando shootings.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
In stark contrast, the statements from Sen. John Cornyn and Gov. Greg Abbott have been scrupulously sympathetic. Abbott has already ordered flags to fly at half staff in remembrance of the victims of the shooting. Even the Sen. Ted Cruz issued a decidedly nonjudgmental statement. “Our hearts go out to those killed and wounded last night. Our prayers are with their families, and with all their grieving loved ones," Cruz said.
Later in the day, Patrick posted a lengthy explanation of how he managed to come across as so deeply, offensive in the face of the tragedy in Orlando by accident. "Our scripture was not posted in reaction to the shooting," Patrick said in a statement posted to his Facebook page and his website. He claimed he was on an island, "the internet is slow" and he didn't even hear about the shooting until a reporter called him late Sunday morning. (Side note: We still don't know how Patrick managed to remain ignorant of all of this considering his Twitter account was blowing up as soon as the post went live Sunday morning, but whatever.) His official explanation is that the whole thing was an accident:
"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.
Some wanted the post pulled down and others did not. Let me be clear, I didn’t pull down the FB post & tweet because God’s word is wrong. His word is never wrong. Taking down his word would be like tearing a page from the Bible because we didn’t like what God was telling us. 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."
Remarkably, by the end of his statement, Patrick spins it so he too is a victim of hate because of people's negative reaction to his post. But no worries. He's going to pray all the hate that causes terrorism, mass shootings, bigotry, and people to be mean to him on social media goes away.