You may remember this episode of the Andy Griffith Show — the choir ladies wanted to buy new choir robes, the building committee to repair the church. Andy, as always, intervened with his characteristic common-sense compromise, and all was well as the episode ended in a happy church service. In juxtaposition only television could accomplish, the next image on Blair’s set was an ad for CSI Miami. Paul remembers, “It was all fishnet stockings, and blood, and legs, and death, and I thought, ‘How did we get from Mayberry to this?’ It was a bit of a watershed moment for me to note how far our culture had fallen in just one generation. I don’t want to pass on to my children the bankrupt culture in which modern Americans find themselves.”
Blair, a former Chicago Bears offensive tackle and now pastor of the Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond, Oklahoma, got off the sidelines and into the game in the battle for American heritage and culture in a surprising and refreshing way — one that should encourage us all, especially America’s pastors. Our interview with him follows. Paul lives with his wife, Cindy, and two sons in Edmond, Oklahoma.
The New American: What is your background?
Paul Blair: I was born in Edmond, Oklahoma, and attended Oklahoma State University in the era of Jimmy Johnson and Pat Jones. After college, I was drafted by the Chicago Bears and spent five seasons in the NFL, mostly with Chicago, finishing my career with the Minnesota Vikings. Unfortunately, knee injuries interfered with my plans, and football didn’t turn out to be the career I had hoped. I had married, and went back to Oklahoma and into business with my brother. We started Blair Vending and Coffee Company, which still serves the Oklahoma City metro area, and is beginning its 22nd year. But a little over eight years ago I was called into the ministry and consequently take a much less active part in the business today. I do, however, know what it takes to make a payroll, so I understand the struggle small businesses face.
TNA: What caused you to become a pastor?
Blair: Nine years ago, I was serving our church as volunteer youth pastor when the senior pastor resigned. The search committee began looking for a replacement and eventually I felt the Lord beating me up on the inside to submit my name, which was something I’d not considered. Being a pastor’s son, I loved pastors, but never wanted to be one. There were two jobs I swore that I would never do, one was bank robber and the other was pastor! But my heart ached from the pew, as week after week the search committee updates were announced with no result. I was burdened, and mentioned the Lord’s nudging to Cindy, getting a less-than-enthusiastic response! We were in agreement as husband and wife — neither one of us wanted me to become a pastor [laughing]! But we prayed about it, and I felt led to submit my name. Another month passed, and the search committee continued to seek other applicants, which was fine with me. After all, I had done all that I could by submitting my name. I theorized that God was simply testing my obedience and wasn’t really serious about me becoming the pastor. Then, one week our interim pastor was going out of town, and I was asked to fill the pulpit. We had great services that day and the question was settled convincingly. I’ve been there ever since. It really has been a perfect fit.
TNA: What was your first inkling that something was wrong in our country?
Blair: I seem always to have had some awareness of things, and eventually asked myself this question, “Our politicians can’t really be that stupid — can they?” I think back to the 1973 oil embargo, when we imported about 35 percent of our oil from foreign countries. Here we are 36 years later, and our dependency has nearly doubled. If the politicians were really concerned about protecting our sovereignty, wouldn’t we have done something about our dependency on foreign sources for our energy needs? Likewise, if we were really concerned about terrorism today, wouldn’t we secure our borders? Over time, I’ve watched as we did nothing about the borders, nothing about energy, spent money like a drunken sailor (no offense to drunken sailors) and recklessly inflated our currency. It seems to me there are those in Washington more concerned with America becoming part of a global alliance than defending our sovereignty. This isn’t a surprise. My understanding of Scripture is that a one-world, global government is talked about in the end times, but that doesn’t mean we are to just roll over and play dead. As a Christian, I’m supposed to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone I can (to be Light) and also to stand against sin and that which is evil (to be Salt). Declaration signer and Patriot Pastor John Witherspoon understood and believed that civil liberty was dependent upon religious liberty, and religious liberty upon civil liberty. They go hand in hand, and truthfully there is no nation on Earth today or in world history that has one without the other.
I learned about government little by little by asking questions. Joe Boyd, a great evangelist and hero of mine, was very well-read, and used to teach about the Bilderbergers and behind-the-scenes goings-on. I learned a lot from him.
TNA: How did you come to join the John Birch Society, and what part does it play in your efforts?
Blair: Clark Curry and Charlie Meadows (members in Oklahoma) were friends of mine and introduced me to the JBS. At first I thought that I really didn’t have time to join another “organization,” but the attacks on our Constitution are real and ignoring them will not make them go away. Finally I said, “Wait a minute.” If there’s an organization that stands for protecting the Constitution and maintaining the rule of law as established by our God-fearing Founders, it’s the JBS. I want to be a part of these guys!
TNA: How do you combine your faith and activism?
Blair: Well, I don’t go looking for trouble, but I’m not afraid of a scrap. God has always called His men to take hard stands against immorality and corruption and to proclaim truth. By the fifth chapter in the Bible, God found it necessary to raise up Enoch to preach to the world about the ungodliness of that generation and warn them of coming judgment. It was not a popular message then and still isn’t!
For years now we have been taught wrong. Our schools teach atheism and call it science. We are taught a revisionist view of American history, erasing our rich Christian heritage. We’re told that Christians don’t belong in the culture. Modern seminaries train pastors to become “church builders” rather than courageous watchmen standing on the wall. They’ve produced CEOs of little businesses, hiding within the four walls of churches competing for customers. Rather than confronting the culture in an effort to transform it, we’ve abandoned it. We are told that Christians aren’t supposed to get involved in “dirty politics.” Well, politics became dirty when Christians abandoned their posts. The devil has been glad to fill that void for us. It amazes me; every pastor knows the truth in his heart. Ask any one of them what three institutions God established on Earth. They will answer “the home, the church, and human government.” They will obviously preach that God’s will for the home is to be built on the Bible and centered on Jesus Christ. They will agree that a local New Testament church must also be built on the Bible and centered on Jesus Christ. But at that point, we illogically conclude that God cares nothing about this third institution that He created. We have abandoned human government to the devil, and now the devil is using human government to attack the home and the church through ungodly legislation like legalizing homosexual marriage and hate crimes.
Knowing the role pastors played in America’s birth, it seems to me that our only hope is another Awakening led by courageous, Spirit-filled pastors. But first we have to reacquaint modern pastors with forgotten truths by providing educational opportunities for pastors, civic leaders, political leaders, and everyday citizens. Accidental ignorance is excusable, but willful ignorance is not.
Most pastors we’ve exposed to the truth have caught fire and joined together in a work to make a difference in the state of Oklahoma. Our prayer is that God will stir the hearts of pastors in every state to rise up, work together, and reclaim their own respective states to the truth of America’s Christian heritage and the biblical principles that served as the foundation for our Declaration and Constitution.
TNA: What do you specifically ask pastors to do?
Blair: We focus on four things. Our battle is a spiritual one, so first, and foremost, we must pray! 2 Chronicles 7:14 gives the formula, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” We pray for God’s mercy and we pray for a spiritual awakening in our land.
Second is evangelism. Francis Schaeffer, a great theologian and patriot from the 20th century, said that “the greatest way to contend for the culture is to lead people to Christ.” We encourage pastors to lead evangelism training in their churches so that members of their congregations will be capable and comfortable in sharing their faith in Jesus Christ with others.
Third is education. Where will truth be taught? The liberal news media? The secular humanism of today’s government schools? Socialist professors in public universities? Our churches must be lighthouses for truth to our congregations. My church is well rounded. We have Sunday School and preaching on Sunday morning. I teach through the New Testament on Sunday evening and through the Old Testament on Wednesday night. On Tuesdays, we have evangelism training and visitation. We are definitely a biblically grounded church. But rather than let our building rust out the rest of the week, we hope to wear it out! Our church is the home of the Christian Heritage Academy North Campus, and we also provide space for cooperative home-school classes. We take advantage of holidays like Thanksgiving, July 4, and Memorial Day to teach about the Faith of our Founding Fathers and the rich Christian heritage of America. We address the biblical view of social issues in our culture. We have voter-registration drives and make available unbiased voter guides so that our members know where candidates stand on the issues. You don’t develop a biblical worldview by listening to some ninny like Keith Olbermann. Our members have every opportunity to be informed of the truth and then act on it.
Fourth is activism. That simply means to do something. Christians in America are famous for wringing their hands and complaining about how bad things are but not doing anything about it. For example, I go to Washington, D.C., every year with some Oklahoma pastors to a conference, and while there we visit our Senators from Oklahoma. While waiting to see Senator Coburn one year, I asked his assistant how many calls they typically receive on an average bill. The answer was five. I was shocked that a United States Senator receives so little input from his constituents. One way to be active is to be aware what kind of legislation is being run through Congress and then let your representative hear from you. If your Senator, Representative, or Governor received 10,000 calls from concerned Christians on a particular issue, I promise you they would take notice. But this is where working together is so important. Our group of pastors in Oklahoma is all fundamental, Bible-believing Christians, but we’re from about a half dozen different denominational backgrounds. Benjamin Franklin addressed this very issue over two centuries ago by saying, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
TNA: What’s next?
Blair: We just completed a “Citizens of Oklahoma Proclamation for Morality” that we read and signed in the Capitol Rotunda. One hundred and forty-eight pastors, elders, civic leaders, and politicians joined together to sign this proclamation. The ACLU was all stirred up and started howling about “separation of church and state.” Let ’em howl. We have our annual “Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ Conference.” Last year, we drew over 1,200 people. We’re also working together with over 50 Christian organizations from across America trying to defeat this hate-crimes legislation. This is a perfect example of the difference we can make. With the liberal super majority in both houses of Congress and with a socialist President, the hate-crimes bill was supposed to sail through and be signed into law before Memorial Day. We’ve been alerting people about how dangerous this bill is and working together to call, e-mail, fax, and send FedEx letters to Congress letting our Senators know that we oppose it. Most of those guys hope to be reelected, and even the liberals will listen if enough people call. Well, it is now more than four months past Memorial Day, and they still haven’t passed the bill. When you consider the amnesty bill last year and now the hate-crimes legislation, this should be a lesson that when “We the People” speak, Congress will listen. If they don’t, then we’ll promise to help them find other lines of work after the next election.
God bless America.
Photo: Pastor Paul Blair