I didn't know him, but I started reading him when I was in college. And I liked him.
He represented a different kind of Baptist. An old kind, but in today's world of "neo-Baptists" (see below), a new new kind. You'll get a feel for him here:
Oh, when I was a boy in Mississippi we claimed that we weren’t [creedal]. But we were. We said the Bible was our creed and made a fetish, an idol of the Bible. Which part of the Bible? Certainly not those parts where Ezekiel said, “She lusted after lovers whose genitals were like a mule’s genitals and whose ejaculations were like that of horses.” (That’s from Chapter 23 of Ezekiel, verse 20. I’m sure some of you want to grab that Gideon Bible when you get back to your room and check the text.)
I cite it here for more than comedic or melodramatic effect. The significance of that text for this gathering is that the prophet was addressing a group not too dissimilar to the neo-Baptists of our day. (And neo-Baptist would be a more accurate designation than Fundamentalist.) “Your genitals are like mule’s genitals.” If you grew up in the country as I did you know what God was saying through the prophet Ezekiel. A mule is a hybrid. Sterile. God was saying to that right-wing bunch, “Ha, you can’t even get it …” Well, never mind.
I was speaking to the state annual meeting of the ACLU in Mississippi not long ago. It was not a large gathering, which struck me as being odd for Baptist is the state church in Mississippi and the First Amendment was the idea of a couple of Baptist preachers. Anyway, some Baptists were protesting the gathering because the ACLU defends pornographers. It does, but it also defends Baptists, if it can find any, which isn’t easy to do these days. Anyway, I cited that passage and challenged the censors to burn that book because it contains hundreds of passages equally tempting to the aggressive scissors of censorship.