Samuel Wurzelbacher, the American plumber who became a celebrity when described by presidential hopeful John McCain as the ‘average man’ has said he will not let gays near his children.

Speaking in an interview with Christianity Today, Wurzelbacher defended his use of the word “queer”, saying: “People don’t understand the dictionary – it’s called queer. Queer means strange and unusual. It’s not like a slur, like you would call a white person a honky or something like that.”

He also said: “God is pretty explicit in what we’re supposed to do – what man and woman are for. Now, at the same time, we’re supposed to love everybody and accept people, and preach against the sins.

“I’ve had some friends that are actually homosexual. And, I mean, they know where I stand, and they know that I wouldn’t have them anywhere near my children. But at the same time, they’re people, and they’re going to do their thing.”

However, he said he believed that gay marriage was up to individual states to decide.

Wurzelbacher added he was not currently planning to run for office, saying God had not yet told him to do so.

He criticised the Republican party for not being Christian enough, adding “They use God as a punch line. They use God to invoke sympathy or invoke righteousness, but they don’t stay the course.”

Wurzelbacher’s comments were dismissed by Joe Solmonese, president of the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign.

“It would matter if Joe the Plumber mattered,” Solmonese told AP. “One thing among many things we learned in the 2008 campaign is that he doesn’t.”