An Indiana pastor who dressed as a drag queen on a reality TV show last month has been “relieved of his duties” and will undergo a process of “renewal, reflection, and recovery.”
Rev. Craig Duke had served at Newburgh United Methodist Church near Evansville until last week.
According to CBN News, Duke had appeared on the HBO docuseries, We’re Here, which follows several drag queens as they visit small towns to recruit residents to participate in drag shows.
In a previous interview with Religion News Service, Duke had said that he anticipated a “challenging experience” at church after he appeared on the show.”
“Clearly, there were folks that were more displeased with my participation than I was aware of, or, at least, the group that was unhappy continued to work together,” he said.
The former pastor had been nominated to appear on the show by the River City Pride organization, according to a GoFundMe for Duke. The account page for Duke says he is a “man of faith, a father, a husband, a social justice advocate, and ally for the LGBTQIA+ community.”
He previously told Religion News Service that he agreed to participate in the docuseries to show his support for LGBTQ people in his community, including his own daughter, who he said recently came out as pansexual.
“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 [there are] people different than you are,” he said. “The invitation to be part of the show allowed me that.”
A church official said Duke was not “fired.” Duke himself also said he talked to the district superintendent about this role at the church after the docuseries aired.
“It just got to the point where the conflict, the anger grew too much, and so for my mental health, too, I started to back away, and I told my district superintendent that the conflict was so much, it was at such a level from some, that I was unable to be an effective leader.”
Photo courtesy: Artem Gavrysh/Unsplash
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.