This Lawmaker Wants to Jail People for Watching Porn

Dusty Deevers is a fundamentalist preacher. He’s also a state senator. And he insists he doesn’t see “any firewalls” between his two roles — as he crusades to outlaw porn, end what he decries as the “abortion holocaust,” and abolish no-fault divorce in Oklahoma. He argues that the sole purpose of government is to “promote what is good in accordance with the will of God.”

Elected in a special election in December, Deevers represents the town of Elgin, in Oklahoma’s rural southwest, where he grew up and serves as the pastor of a Baptist church. The 47-year-old politician’s views are extreme — even for a Christian nationalist. Surveying American society, Deevers does not see a religious sphere and a secular sphere. He sees only Christian and Satanic.

“Either you’re coming under the rule of God your creator … or you’re going to come under the rule of The Serpent,” he said during a January podcast. In Deevers’ view, civil society, apart from the influence of overt Christian doctrine, is not a neutral middle ground, but rather the realm of the devil, or what he calls “a serpentine theocracy.”

Unlike many Christian nationalists who seek to ghostwrite legislation, or covertly sway candidates, Deevers is operating in the open. He holds a position of direct political power, and he is able to shape the GOP agenda in Oklahoma and craft legislation in the Sooner State. He represents the bleeding edge of a far-right Christian movement that seeks to put the force of law behind its fundamentalist theology — and woe be to any nonbelievers.

With close-cropped hair, a salt-and-pepper beard, and tailored jackets, Deevers doesn’t look the part of a fire-breather. Often donning clear, acetate glasses, he gives elder millennial vibes. But when Deevers opens his mouth, he invariably presents a jarring, black-and-white view of the role of government — which he believes exists to “protect innocent people and to punish and terrorize evildoers.”

This vengeful, Manichean worldview is already evident in the legislation Deevers has introduced. The first bill on his docket classifies “any abortion as homicide” and “allows for the prosecution of the mother of the unborn child.” Deevers has also filed a bill providing eye-for-an-eye punishment for anyone bearing false witness. It would subject an accuser, found to have “willfully made a false report,” to the criminal punishment that would have accompanied a guilty conviction for the alleged offense.

Another Deevers bill would eliminate no-fault divorce, meaning marriages could only be dissolved for causes like abuse. While campaigning, Deevers told a religious podcast he also favors “public shaming for those who are at fault in divorce.” (In a related essay, he calls this “an important act of justice for both the transgressor and the transgressed.”)

The state senator has only been on the job for a few weeks, but he’s already grabbed national notice for another effort to legislate his morals: by criminalizing porn. Deevers’ anti-smut bill would subject porn creators — and even viewers — to felony prison sentences of up to 20 years. The bill would create a bounty system, similar to what Texas instituted in its infamous abortion bill, that would allow those who rat out their horny neighbors to collect civil penalties of up to $10,000.

Deevers’ bill defines pornograpy, with uncanny attention to detail, as falling in one of 10 categories, including “sexual intercourse which is normal or perverted”; “anal sodomy”; “excretion in the context of sexual conduct”; as well as “lewd exhibition of the uncovered genitals, buttocks, or, if such person is female, the breast.” The bill would also criminalize sexting, except between spouses.

Deevers did not respond to an interview request from Rolling Stone, but he has detailed his political and theological views extensively in podcasts with like-minded interviewers, including calling porn “fundamentally an evil.” He augments his views with moralist policy thought poems like this one on X:

Pornography is the opium of the masses. 

The powerful keep it to suppress the virulent. 

The immature assume it’s a harmless supplement. 

The greedy promote it to enslave the voracious consumer appetite. 

The Devil employs it as bait for a banquet in the grave. 

Ban porn.

In the far-right context, Christian nationalism is an ideology that holds, falsely, that America was founded as a Christian nation, that Christians are entitled to a place of privilege in society, and that fundamentalist believers are called to impose their morality on others through legislation.

Deevers embodies a threat that experts believe Christian nationalism poses to democracy — by literally demonizing his opponents, and casting compromise as moral corruption. His intent, he’s said, is to steer society away from the “judgment that we deserve,” warning that otherwise the country will suffer not just from the effects of “bad policy and wicked rulers but under the Judgment of God.”

As Brad Onishi, author of an “Extremist History of Christian Nationalism,” recently described in an interview with Rolling Stone: “If you’re a person who is convinced that the United States is under threat by a Luciferian regime, comprised of Marxist globalist secularists, feminists, the LGBTQ community, and so on, democracy is not your sacred value.”

Sounding every bit like a Margaret Atwood villain, Deevers speaks of government as “a system of force to bring right judgment and right practice under law.” He speaks of government as wielding “the sword of violence or justice” — as though the two concepts were synonymous. He insists that “God’s word tells us especially how the Civil sphere is to operate,” and he inveighs against the “acidic effects” of “the doctrine of men.”

A married father of six, Deevers is the pastor at Grace Reformed Baptist Church of Elgin. The vision statement for the church reads, in part: “God is transforming us from being idolatrous and self-obsessed individuals to being a worshiping family of servant missionaries.”

On the campaign trail, Deevers described how he moved back to Elgin in 2013 and led an effort to prevent his childhood church from being closed, adding: “Now I’m preaching in the same church I grew up in, and was saved.”

Deevers was awakened to politics during the Covid-19 pandemic, when he was alarmed by what he’s described as government “overreach to healthy peoples’ bodies,” insisting he objected to the state trying “to tell us what we should do.” (The irony of this position appears totally lost on Deevers as he now seeks to use government power to override others’ rights to be free of state intrusion.)

When a local state senate seat opened up last year, Deevers says he engaged in a prayerful conversation with his flock that resulted in a decision: Deevers had been called by God to stand as a candidate. As he’s described it, his church “commissioned me to take up the duty.”

Pitching himself to voters, Deevers filmed a campaign ad wielding a rifle while wearing a black T-shirt that read: “Obey God: Defy Tyrants.” He railed against “the Godless leftist agenda” that he warned threatens “thriving families and their moral development.” He additionally decried “drag queen story hour” and the “chemical and surgical mutilation of our kids.” A longtime opponent of abortion, Deevers positioned this stance in biblical terms as “loving my pre-born neighbor as myself.”

Deevers was elected last fall and took office shortly before the end of the year. In a recent interview, Deevers was asked if he sees any separation between his role as pastor and state legislator. He responded: “I don’t see any firewalls that are provided to me by the scriptures.”

In the insular world of rural Oklahoma, Deevers does not see himself as an outlier. He says his anti-porn bill is consistent with the state GOP’s far-right platform; Deevers insists he’s “operating with the will of the people of Oklahoma, at least the Republicans.” From his Christian nationalist perspective, Deevers has even found ways to turn traditional hard-right GOP stances into biblical fights. He has introduced a bill to abolish the state income tax, which he claimed in a post on X is “an unjust tax upon [a] man’s first fruits and livelihood,” suggesting it violates at least three of the Ten Commandments.

Deevers’ extremist stances have caught the attention of groups like Right Wing Watch, which has been tracking Deevers since he launched his campaign last year. For his part, Deevers seems to revel in the attention, responding to the group this week with another thought poem on X:

​​Christ is King. 

Jesus is Lord. 

Thank you for sharing the truth, @RightWingWatch

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