An ultra-conservative Baptist pastor has won the Republican primary nomination to represent part of South Central Oklahoma in the state Senate, if he wins the Dec. 12 general election.
The previous occupant of the District 32 Senate seat, John Montgomery, is a Republican who resigned in August to become president of the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce. Montgomery had won the seat with 64% of the vote last fall.
Dusty Deevers, the new Republican nominee, serves as bivocational pastor at Grace Community Church of Elgin, Okla., which is located north of Lawton. Lawton is home to Fort Sill, a large Army base.
This summer, Deevers was nominated for election as the Southern Baptist Convention’s first vice president but lost that race to Jay Adkins, a pastor from New Orleans. Deevers drew 20% of the vote.
Deevers holds extreme anti-abortion views, known as abolitionist, and last year drew sharp critique from SBC President Bart Barber, who later apologized for his angry tone.
Barber had written: “Unless you 100% agree with every jot and tittle of Deevers’s obsession with sending 16-year-old girls to prison for succumbing to the coercion of their parents to have an abortion, he will label you ‘against the innocent preborn.’”
One of the other reasons Barber lashed out at Deevers was because the Oklahoma pastor had been critical of Brent Leatherwood, elected last year as president of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Deevers accused Leatherwood, who is known as a staunch anti-abortion advocate, of not opposing abortion strongly enough or consistently enough.
Within the SBC, there is a small but vocal minority that wants to abolish the ERLC because they believe it is “divisive” and not conservative enough.
Deevers is part of the Calvinistic movement within the SBC. His church previously was known as First Baptist Church and Grace Community Church but since 2016 has been called Grace Reformed Baptist Church of Elgin.
If elected to the state Senate, Deevers would plan to continue as pastor. He already manages a property company in addition to his pastoral work. The church, in a Reformed tradition, is overseen by a team of male elders.
On his campaign website, Deevers says he is “used to fighting for principles” and is “committed to fulfilling my duties with biblical conviction to establish a brighter future for Oklahomans.”
He explains: “For years, I’ve watched as dangerous, immoral policies coming out of Washington D.C. and even Oklahoma City have hurt my family and the members of my church. Being a pastor has always been my passion and still is, but it has become clear that there is a need for a bold fighter to stand between the people and the ever-expanding government that is infringing on our God-given freedoms and becoming more and more overrun with evil, left-wing philosophies.
“I’ve watched as dangerous, immoral policies coming out of Washington D.C. and even Oklahoma City have hurt my family and the members of my church.”
“I intend to put a stop to it. And when I say that, I don’t say it as a politician. I say it as a pastor, husband and father. When I tell you something, before God and Senate District 32, I mean it. I will fight for you. I will seek to help enact just laws. I will seek to obey Christ. I will seek to make SD 32 a better place for you and our children.”
As evidence of an “immoral and illegal government mandate,” he cites COVID-19 health restrictions that caused most churches not to meet in person for months and to require masks when they did gather.
“My purpose in this campaign is to glorify God and fight for the causes I believe he would have me fight for,” Deevers explains.
He is a 2001 graduate of Oklahoma City University and a 2008 graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he earned the master of divinity degree.
In an interview with the online publication The Sentinel, Deevers said his congregation asked him to take up this political calling.
“My church charged me to take up the duty for them and our children to get the government off our backs and out of our pockets,” he said. “I’m running to protect and defend people’s God-given and constitutional rights to life, liberty and property, fight to build strong communities and families, and establish equal protection for all lives from fertilization and conception to natural death.
“My church prayed for a couple of weeks before our final prayer meeting where they charged me to take up the duty to fight for them, our children, and our neighbors’ good by establishing justice as God demands.”
One of Oklahoma’s current U.S. senators also is a Baptist pastor. James Lankford also is a graduate of Southwestern Seminary and previously worked for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.