Maurice “Bojangles” Blanchard Defies Southern Baptist Stereotypes

A familiar face showed up on the cover of Monday’s Courier-Journal: A profile of Maurice “Bojangles” Blanchard looked at his life, his recent ordination, and some criticism from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler. Reverend Mohler says Blanchard’s ordination illustrated the rift between traditional Baptist churches and more liberal congregations like Highland Baptist Church, whom Mohler says “defy scripture.”

When we interviewed Reverend Blanchard as part of our Defining Fairness series, he addressed these opposing position among Baptists. 

When you talk about Al Mohler, and you talk about [Archbishop] Kurtz, and these entities, while they are influential, I think that the faith communities in Louisville have more of an autonomous way of seeing faith, which I think is wonderful. There are many Catholics, many Baptists, many Protestants that are supportive, and inclusive. The problem is, in Louisville, is that these individuals—the louder, more abusive ones—are heard from more often, and are kind of the mouthpieces for congregations throughout this region, and that’s really troubling. Because there’s no progressive voice that gets heard as much, in my opinion, as the Al Mohlers do. 

He also shared his thoughts about whether faith has been politicized.

In a Protestant faith, especially Baptists, you’ve got to understand that the pastor is not placed there; they’re hired. And according to whether the deacons like them or not can affect their employment. So you have a lot of pastors—interestingly enough, the Baptist pastors—who are very vocal either one way or the other. And in doing so, I think they’re solidifying what they think is needed to stay.

The problem is is that the focus has been on whether or LGBT or homosexuality is a sin, and I don’t think that’s where the discussion is today for a lot of progressives. We’re past that. It’s not a sin. We’re at the point of ‘how does inclusion look,’ and ‘how do we move forward.’ The problem is is that some congregations are very archaic, and unfortunately, their membership is plummeting. And instead of trying pray about that and look at what the real issue is, they’re attacking. And that’s when we see this vocal outrage against LGBTQ folk, trying to fill up their pews with someone, whether it be angry folk or fearful folk.

Blanchard was ordained as a Reverend on May 27. He leads the True Colors Ministry at Highland Baptist Church.

Laura Ellis

Laura is the producer of Strange Fruit, a weekly talk show focusing on race and gender, and produces other news & feature programming.

@funambulator

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