Oklahoma Church Ousted After Pastor Defended Wearing Blackface

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The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant denomination, has moved to expel an Oklahoma church where the pastor defended wearing blackface.

On Tuesday (September 19), Southern Baptist's executive committee voted that Sherman Jaquess and his church, Matoaka Baptist Church of Ochelata, “be deemed not in friendly cooperation with the convention," per the Associated Press.

The expulsion comes after Jaquess painted his body in black smudge and wore a Jheri curl wig during a 2017 performance in what he claimed was in honor of Ray Charles. After photos of the incident resurfaced earlier this year, Jaquess defended his actions.

“We have people [who] are offended by a lot of things, but it’s hard to play Ray Charles if you don’t play a Black man; it wasn’t anything,” Jaquess said. “It wasn’t derogatory, wasn’t racial in any way, and we’re not racist at all. I don’t have a racist bone in my body. I have a lot of racial friends,”

Jacquess told the AP that Southern Baptist contacted him earlier this year about sending a packet “where I would have to prove I wasn’t a racist.” However, Jacquess said he didn't receive anything until last week when notice of the pending vote and his lack of cooperation arrived.

The pastor said his church may appeal the expulsion amid the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting next year.

“I don’t know if I want to be a part of a denomination that would make a judgment about you without even talking to you,” Jacquess said. “The only thing I see that they do well is cash my check.”

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