Church Fires Pastor Who Received Drag Makeover on TV to Show His Allyship December 7, 2021

Church Fires Pastor Who Received Drag Makeover on TV to Show His Allyship

The HBO series We’re Here, now in its second season, follows a handful of drag stars as they give someone from small-town America a drag makeover while sharing their personal stories.

Pastor Craig Duke (below) was a perfect subject for a recent episode: His daughter had come out as pansexual two years ago, and the pastor of Newburgh United Methodist Church wanted to participate as a way to show that he was an ally for everyone. He also wanted to tell the world that God loves them as they are.

“There are very few people of faith saying anything truthful about how God feels about gay people, and it’s all unconditional love,” he said.

“I’m just really thankful they chose my dad,” Tiffany said. “I don’t think that (the judgment of her father being a pastor and performing on the show) could ever put a damper on how positive an experience it was for my family and those around us.”

Duke told Religion News Service it was a wonderful experience for him, too:

“I was surrounded and immersed in a culture that I’ve never been immersed in, and one of the things in ministry, if you want to involve people different than yourself in your ministry, you have to go to where people different than you are. The invitation to be part of the show allowed me that.

The episode aired on November 8 and the reception was overwhelmingly positive. The only people who seemed to hate the episode… were the people in charge of Newburgh United Methodist Church.

So they fired Craig Duke, proving once again that God’s love is conditional and entirely based on whether you hate the same people He does.

In a GoFundMe page set up to assist his family, the organizers explain:

… Unfortunately, Craig’s participation in this show caused much turmoil in the church that he was serving at the time and ultimately lead to him being “relieved of pastoral duties” at that church. Craig will continue with a significantly reduced salary until no later than February 28. Obviously, this poses a major challenge to Craig and his family as they determine their next steps.

That page has already raised $42,796 as of this writing.

Good luck trying to get more information out of the church, though. There’s no mention on their website or social media about Duke’s firing. There’s no explanation of why they weren’t satisfied with his appearance on the show. It’s as if they’re hoping no one notices.

But Queerty got ahold of a letter that was sent out to church members from Mitch Gieselman, “Superintendent, South and Southwest District, Indiana United Methodist Church,” a few weeks after the show aired:

“No single resolution will be satisfactory to all. I’ve received numerous calls and emails that are highly critical of Craig’s actions, and I’ve received numerous messages of support for him. In such a polarized climate, our main intent is to foster an environment in which both NUMC and the Duke family can move forward in grace.

It goes on to state, “Craig has not ‘resigned,’ nor has he been ‘fired,’ as these are not actions that are consistent with our appointment system. While there is a diversity of opinion regarding the moral implications of Rev. Duke’s actions, he has not been found to have committed any chargeable offense or other violation of the United Methodist Book of Discipline.

“In short, Craig has reached a place where he feels unable to continue to serve in parish ministry at present. During his time of being relieved from pastoral duties, he will be engaging in a process of renewal, reflection, and recovery that will be monitored by our conference Director of Leadership Development, Bishop Trimble, and myself. Our desire is to provide an opportunity for Craig to again be able to utilize his numerous gifts as a pastor in a local congregation. He will not, however, be returning to the NUMC pulpit.

Um… that means he was fired, whatever the technical term is.

The church is both-sidesing this issue, acting like the bigots and the people who say “Christ is Love” deserve equal say in their faith. If your religion gives bigotry and kindness equal weight, then you need a new religion. This one’s broken beyond repair.

Bigotry won out over allyship because hate is what this church actually stands for no matter what Duke showed to the contrary and no matter how much the church’s leadership tries to deflect from that fact.

(Screenshot via Facebook. Thanks to Jeffrey for the link)

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