It’s as simple as one:
In a rare public appearance since his indictment in late July, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton made an appeal for more Christian involvement in politics as he addressed the congregation at First Baptist Grapevine on Sunday.
“It takes a lot of courage for believers to step into this political process,” he said. “We are in the position as the church, and as believers, we have to stand up and speak out.”
Paxton, who was asked to speak at the church by a local tea party group, made his remarks during about 20 minutes of conversation with Pastor Doug Page.
On Sunday, Paxton did not directly refer to the charges against him. He instead emphasized the importance of faith and the support of fellow Christians in his life — and listed among his biblical heroes Daniel, Paul, Joseph, and Moses who he said had stood up to unjust laws and government as Christians though they faced the risk of imprisonment and death.
“I feel like it would be hopeless if I were out there alone and I didn’t feel the presence and knowing that there are believers praying for me. I don’t know that it would be possible for me to move forward,” he said. “It makes more of a difference than you think.”
As an example of what Christians could do if they made their voices heard, the attorney general described efforts to help pass legislation known as the Pastor Protection Bill, which affirmed the rights of clergy to refuse to conduct marriages that violate their beliefs.
“That bill was dead. Then 200 pastors all started calling their state representatives and it kicked into gear and passed. That’s the power of the Christian community if they’ll get involved in the process,” he said.
The former lawmaker also credited his victory in his first race for the Legislature — where he served as a state representative then as a state senator from 2003 until 2013 — to the engagement of the Christian faithful in politics.
“One of my opponents was my senator’s chief of staff, so he had all the endorsements of the community leaders, he had all the money,” Paxton said. “What I felt God was telling me was ‘get the Christian community out to vote.’”
First Baptist is the home church for a number of prominent North Texas tea party activists, and Paxton’s appearance was advertised as a Northeast Tarrant Tea Party event. Paxton and Page never spoke directly about them, but our AG’s legal unpleasantries were a clear subtext of the talk, witnessed by a crowd of several hundred faithful.
During a 20-minute conversation on the church’s unadorned stage, Paxton and First Baptist’s senior pastor, Doug Page, placed the attorney general neatly within the history of Christian martyrs persecuted for speaking biblical truths. They warned of a dark future for America if virtuous men like Paxton are allowed to fall.
“We’ve been so blessed in America because we’ve had an unusual couple of hundred years. There’s not very many countries that have had the religious freedom, and the freedoms that we’ve had in this country, and it’s so easy to take it for granted,” Paxton said. Some of his favorite biblical figures, he said, were men who suffered at the hands of the powers-that-be for standing up for what was right.
He continued: “So it’s not that unusual, as Christians, to have to confront not only the culture, but also the government. And so here we are in America, where we haven’t really had to do that. And I think that has changed. What America was 50 years ago — even what we were 10 years ago — is very different.” Christians nowadays had to speak up more in their personal and public lives, he said. Paxton had tried to do so while working at noted den of iniquity J.C. Penney before he was elected to the Texas House, but he said it had not made him popular.
David and Jeremiah had turned challenging times into opportunities to spread the word of the Lord, and Paxton said that Christians today could take solace from these men, unafraid to speak even “at the cost of their lives.”
Attorney General Ken Paxton vowed to continue fighting against the Obama administration and “for the Constitution” during a meeting of the Williamson County Republican Leaders organization held at the Sirloin Stockade restaurant Monday night, but transparency wasn’t on the menu.
Members of the press were nearly asked to leave the meeting, claiming it was closed to the media. The group’s president, Mike McCloskey, said the meeting was for members of the organization and sponsored guests, though the group’s website implied events were open to the public.
McCloskey relented after members of the press agreed not to record the event or take pictures.
Ken Paxton knows who his voters are, he knows what they want to hear, and he knows how to give it to them. As long as they’re still with him, he will feel no pressure to resign. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it is entirely plausible to me that Paxton could be on not just the March 2018 ballot but the November 2018 ballot as well even after being convicted but still going through the appeals process. Barring a final conviction or an electoral defeat, he’s not going anywhere.