Politics

Patrick: ‘Reap What You Sow’ Tweet Not Aimed At Orlando Shooting Victims

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a staunch opponent of LGBT causes, drew harsh responses to his posting of Galatians 6:7 just hours after the mass shooting at a gay nightclub.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is facing fierce criticism in response to a bible verse posted on his Twitter feed. It included the words, “A man reaps what he sows.” The post went up just hours after Sunday’s massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

The verse was only the latest in a series of scriptural passages Patrick tweets each Sunday morning. But the choice of Galatians 6:7 struck many as badly timed, if not deliberately offensive. It remained up for several hours, drawing a sharp backlash before being quietly removed.

Dan Patrick Tweet
From Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s Twitter feed, posted Sunday, June 12, 2016 (subsequently deleted)

“If you’re the average person just running around Twitter, looking at stuff, and all of a sudden you see the lieutenant governor’s comments. You would think, just looking at the timeline, just looking at the picture, you’d  think, ‘Oh, my God, he’s responding to Orlando,’” says Jon Taylor, chair of the political science department at the University of Saint Thomas.

The lieutenant governor grabbed national headlines last year when he led the fight to overturn Houston’s equal rights ordinance. More recently, he’s stated that Texas will forgo federal education dollars rather than enforce a White House directive requiring that transgender students be allowed to use the bathrooms of the gender with which they identify. Taylor says that’s contributed to the impression that the post was aimed at the LGBT community, whether the timing was deliberate or not.

Lieutenant Governor of Texas Dan Patrick speaking with supporters of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz after the results of the 2016 Nevada caucuses at his caucus night party.
Lieutenant Governor of Texas Dan Patrick speaking with supporters of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz after the results of the 2016 Nevada caucuses at his caucus night party at the Bill & Lillie Heinrich YMCA in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“He’s becoming the state’s chief moralist in some respects, or at least that’s how he’s positioning himself,” Taylor says.

Patrick posted a statement on his Facebook page saying that the verse was not intended as hate speech. He said those who interpret it as being directed against gays have not read the full passage from Galatians.

“I think Paul is saying to the Galatians that they have been uncharitable to one another, and therefore they’re getting discord in their community,” says Randall Smith, who teaches moral theology at the University of Saint Thomas. “But it doesn’t strike me that he’s at all saying that the people who are suffering from the discord and animosity are necessarily the ones to blame.”

Smith says that people quote scriptural passages with different meanings in mind, and that only Patrick knows what he really intended.

Lt. Gov. Patrick is traveling out of the country. His spokesman, Allen Blakemore issued a statement saying that the choice of bible verse had been scheduled last Thursday, and that its posting after the Orlando shootings was an unfortunate coincidence. Houston Public Media reached out to Blakemore for clarification, but he declined to be interviewed.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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