Indiana pastor fired after joining drag queens on TV

NEWBURGH, Ind. — An Indiana pastor who performed in drag on the HBO show “We’re Here” has been forced to leave his job.

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Craig Duke, a pastor at the Newburgh United Methodist Church in Newburgh, Indiana, performed alongside a drag queen in an episode that aired Nov. 8. In the episode, Duke wears a pink wig and white robe and lip-syncs to Ke$ha.

The show “We’re Here” follows drag entertainers to small cities and towns in the U.S., where they transform locals into drag queens.

Duke was relieved from his duties at the church because of pushback from congregants over his appearance, The Washington Post reported. “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,” said Duke, The Washington Post reported.

A letter sent to the congregation says that Duke did not resign and was not fired, but that “Craig has reached a place where he feels unable to continue to serve in a 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…He will not, however, be returning to the NUMC pulpit.”

Newburgh UMC Letter by National Content Desk on Scribd

In the episode, Duke said he wanted to perform to show the local LGBTQ community that it’s welcome in the church and has an ally there, NBC News reported.

The pastor’s supporters have created an online fundraiser, which has raised more than $58,600 as of Wednesday afternoon.