The Georgia congressman who last month read a Bible verse to the House Republican Conference calling for the death of homosexuals stands by his actions, without regrets. But he told CQ that he and his wife are praying for the loved ones of those killed in a mass shooting at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida, over the weekend.
“My wife and I, our prayers are with those family and friends,” GOP Rep. Rick W. Allen said in an interview. “The members of Congress who represent that district are just devastated.”
The shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Florida has so far claimed the lives of 49 people and is the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. While the investigation is still underway, it appears the shooter targeted the nightclub because of the sexual orientation of club patrons.
Allen told CQ he does not feel a need to clarify his intention behind reading from Romans 1:18-32 and Revelations 22:18-19 during the May 26 Republican conference meeting. Allen read the verses prior to a floor vote on the Energy-Water spending bill, which was then voted down in a 112-305 vote, with 130 Republicans voting against the bill. The bill's rejection was largely attributed to its inclusion of an amendment from New York Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney that would have affirmed an executive order barring LGBT discrimination in federal contracting. Conservative advocates outside Congress urged that members turn down the bill on the basis of the Maloney amendment.
In the aftermath, gay rights advocates called on top Republicans to condemn the "vile and dangerous remarks" and censure Allen."At a time when LGBT people face staggering rates of discrimination, harassment and violence, Rep. Allen's comments spread hate that does real harm," JoDee Winterhof, a senior vice president at the LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement.
Allen, asked whether he felt the need to make any clarifying statements about his reading of the verses in light of the Orlando tragedy, said, “Well, I’m imperfect. And I consider that we are all imperfect and we all fall short of the glory of God, which is why we need a savior, by the way."
He said that he read the verse because he believes a nation founded on Judeo-Christian values needs to come together, and he does not condemn anyone. “I just simply shared that, in what’s supposed to be a private setting with fellow members of my conference, just like I would in a Bible study,” he said.
The Romans passage that he read discusses what types of penalties the Bible says should be applied to those who are not heterosexual.
Asked if he stands by his decision to read the verse, Allen said, "Yes. I read a scripture from Romans and that’s what I did."
Madison Fox, a spokeswoman for Allen, said after the interview that Allen was in no way wishing death for anyone in reading the Bible verse.
"Again, he read Revelations 22:18-19 and Romans 1:18-32 while delivering a prayer in a private closed-door meeting, not in front of a crowd, to the press or out in public," Fox said in a written statement. "The passage in Romans discusses sin, in all its shapes and sizes. The congressman will be the first to admit that he is a sinner, as we all sin — but he never condemned anyone or would condemn anyone, especially not to death."
"The attack in Orlando was a terrorist attack on all humanity and the freedoms we have as Americans. It was the act of a radical Islamic terrorist who was hell bent on murdering innocent people," Fox said.
One of the verses that Allen read to the conference, Romans 1:27, says: “And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet."
According to Allen's office, he also read lines verses 28-32: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them."