Cocoa Beach pastor campaigns for State House
By JONI B. HANNIGAN
Published August 21, 2008
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COCOA BEACH (FBW)—Few Florida Baptists could have forgotten the haunting image of a steeple piercing the roof of an east-coast church after Hurricane Frances in 2004.
Casting himself in the eye of another potential storm, the church’s pastor, Ken Babington, in February, decided to make official his desire to earn the Republican seat for District 31 in the Florida House of Representatives.
Acknowledging there are both Democrats and Republicans in the small church he has pastored 16 years, Babington, 62, said there will be a party after the Aug. 26 primary no matter how the vote goes, just because he’s stood for what he believes and preaches.
“Whether they are Democrats or Republicans in the church, my positions are clearly what any common sense person in American should have,” Babington told Florida Baptist Witness.
And those beliefs?
Babington’s complete “Contract with District 31” lists 12 points and is available on his campaign website at www.votekenbabington.com. His first point calls for a reduction in “government spending.”
In his contract, Babington also affirms “life begins at conception,” and told the Witness he believes the legislature should be proactive and not reactive in “honoring the sanctity of human life.”
With three children and nine grandchildren, Babington said he is also an advocate of parental involvement in school choice and supports vouchers for education.
The “Contract” is a mix of moral, economic and philosophical principles and positions and is something Babington said has brought him endorsements and references from dozens listed on his website—and even an indirect compliment in his mind from one who recently endorsed an opponent.
“They noted my ‘extreme right-wing positions,’” Babington chuckled. “I’m going to send them a thank you letter that says ‘you have affirmed my conservative positions.’”
A more encouraging note was one Babington received from his long-time friend, Bible study leader and teacher, Kay Arthur.
“How exciting to hear you are running for the House of Representatives in Florida,” Arthur wrote in a Feb. 29 letter. “God bless you in this new endeavor as you seek to serve the people of your state.”
Babington said he has been friends with Arthur since March 6, 1976, when he and his wife attended a marriage retreat at the Arthurs’ in a big red barn in Chattanooga, Tenn. On that day, he prayed to receive Christ.
Describing himself as a conservative pastor for 30 years, Babington, who served a stint in the U.S. Navy as a scuba diver in the 1960s, said he became impassioned when the national media, after Super Tuesday, said the Republican party was “ineffective and no longer useful.”
“They were saying the conservatives are antiques and no longer needed,” Babington said. “I was saying, ‘that is not true!’”
At that point Babington said he spoke with church members and for about five months gave them a chance to tell him what they thought.
But no one said they had a problem and Babington proceeded to put his name in the mix—although there are already four others running for the same seat.
“Everybody’s anxious to know what the vote’s gonna be,” Babington said. “The tone of the church is anxious for me to win. They are a great group of people and it’s easy to be their pastor.”
Around the church, everything is still on course and ministry still happens, the pastor said.
“I’m running because I think the country and the state are in tremendous moral peril,” Babington said. “I want to be a voice to change that.”
But if the votes just aren’t there?
“I won’t be the least bit upset,” Babington maintained. “Pastoring is a full-time job. But my one desire to restore godly principles in government dealings because I really believe we’ve lost our moral compass as a state and as a nation.”