Henry Thaxton, 84, of Tuppers Creek, Sissonville went home to be with the Lord on Wednesday, May 22, 2013. He was born at Guthrie, WV, on June 30, 1928, to the late James Avil and Naomi McClanahan Thaxton. He was also preceded in death by his wife Phyllis DeWees Thaxton and 11 brothers and sisters. Henry was a former employee of Union Carbide, former Christian School Administrator, and was a retired auditor for the State of WV Tax Department. He was a graduate of WV State University and was a very active conservative politician having been a former candidate for WV Secretary of State, the former director of West Virginians Against Government Waste, and a passionate lobbyist for conservative family values. He was an activist during the Kanawha County text book controversy of 1974, historically seen as the catalyst for the formation of numerous Christian schools in the area. Henry had served his country in the US Air Force Security Forces, was an ordained minister, and was a born again Christian since the age of seven. (Cooke Funeral Home)
I first remember becoming aware of the heroic battle of the Kanawha County West Virginia textbook protesters during several months in 1974 while completing my theological studies at Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. I would come home from classes and follow the unfolding drama, reading all the newspaper articles I could find. The name Alice Moore was much in the news but also there were reports of local preachers who stood with her and rallied the Christian people of West Virginia on behalf of their children. While the liberal media attempted to demean them all, I understood the seriousness of the moment and applauded their heroic stand for righteousness, as did millions of other Americans.
In 1977 Gail and I began our own Christian education adventure as we took up the education of our oldest son at home. While I can’t remember all our motivations during that time, I think the issues raised by the West Virginia textbooks protesters in Kanawha County were a factor in our decision. We worked to locate Christian curriculum and used McGuffey’s Readers and creation science books with our own children.
We started the Exodus Mandate Project in 1997 to lead children into the safe sanctuary of K-12 Christian schools and home schooling. Later we began to work directly with Karl Priest as our West Virginia state coordinator, who reintroduced us to the story and characters from the 1974 protester movement through his book and the filming of their testimonies at the theater in South Charleston, West Virginia. Their story is now chronicled in the IndoctriNation movie seen by several million. We had traveled to West Virginia and met with them at a restaurant.
I visited a long time that night with Henry, and we talked about those days in 1974 and his subsequent ministry, but also about building a Christian family legacy. Henry was joyful that night that his own children and grandchildren were in the Christian Faith and following the Lord Jesus Christ. At that time I was happy to hear of his efforts to start up local Christian schools in Kanawha County as I think that is what the 1974 protest was all about. At that short meeting with Henry in the restaurant, I knew I was in the presence of a great Christian gentleman. Not many people can leave behind such a legacy in their own family as Henry Thaxton has, much less the impact on a nation that he and his colleagues have had.
I cannot say that what started in Kanawha County in 1974 will lead to the complete recovery of our Christian heritage and rescue of the children in America, but of this I am confident: that a testimony was given and a new standard was raised in 1974. I see the fruit every day all over the United States as I attend Christian school and homeschool conventions and talk to many thousands of Christian families shopping for Christian curriculum. Those parents represent millions of children now in the safe sanctuary of K-12 Christian education.
May God bless your memory Henry Thaxton and your fellow warriors from 1974.