A private Christian school in Florida has come under national scrutiny for its long-held policy on biblical sexuality. But its lead pastor and administrator says the school will not change its policy nor "cower" to public pressure because he "answers to God."
Staff at Grace Christian School in Valrico, FL say they have received death threats because of a policy that says students will only be referred to by their biological sex as determined at birth.
"We have fielded hundreds, probably thousands of phone calls Thursday, Friday over the weekend, with just some of the most outrageous things. People threatening to burn my house down, threatening to kill my family," Pastor and administrator Barry McKeen told Fox News.
The threats come after NBC News published several paragraphs of a June 6 email by McKeen that reiterated to parents the school's commitment to adhere to a biblical view on sexuality.
"We believe that God created mankind in His image: male (man) and female (woman), sexually different but with equal dignity," the email said. "Students in school will be referred to by the gender on their birth certificate and be referenced in name in the same fashion."
The outlet also reported that the school threatened to expel students who identified as gay or transgender.
McKeen posted a Facebook message in response to the article saying he would not change where the school stands.
"It is our policy now and will be our policy going forward," he said. "We believe the Bible from cover to cover. We are not going to change. The Bible says God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We're not going to change, because God's not going to change."
McKeen does point out that some points in the NBC article were true.
"It is true that a student cannot come to our school and knowingly, for us, and be transgender or homosexual," he explained. "That is, for us, rooted in the scriptures. God has spoken on those issues explicitly...we have had these policies since day number one, in the early 1970s."
McKeen said he sent the email to remind parents that "although this is being celebrated and encouraged by the country, it is condemned by God."
He added that no students have ever been dismissed from the school over their sexual orientation.
"We had one student on one occasion whose parents and us came to an agreement for them to be withdrawn and that's about it," McKeen explained.
One parent told NBC News that she pulled her daughter from the school after the email was sent. She mentioned to the media the school had "loving teachers" and she respects the school's opinion, but she was not going to have her daughter "feel ashamed of herself for any reason."
"We're not hateful," McKeen said. "The biggest issue that happens in this culture is because you believe something, and you stand for something that you are automatically hateful. We are not hateful."
McKeen told Fox the school has had to beef up security following press coverage of his email.
"I can assure you that any entity that ever came to me with the power to do so and said, 'change this policy or your doors can't open', then our doors would remain closed," he said on Facebook.
"As I read in the Bible if we are to obey man or God, we're always, always, always to obey God," McKeen continued. "I don't answer to NBC, I don't answer to local newspapers, I don't answer to bloggers, and Tik Tokkers. I answer to God."
"And so, if a lot of people are mad at me, I'm sorry. I don't like that they are mad at me, but at the end of the day I answer to God, and I seek the applause of Heaven," he closed.