An Indiana pastor was “relieved of pastoral duties” for appearing in drag on a reality TV series.
Craig Duke, former pastor at United Methodist Church in Evansville, appeared in feminine attire and full makeup on HBO’s “We’re Here” reality TV series last month.
After word of his suspension spread around town, Evansville residents Chris and Erin Sexton launched a GoFundMe page that raised over $40,000 for the defrocked pastor.
The GoFundMe page described Duke, who is heterosexual, as a “man of faith, a father, a husband, a social justice advocate, and ally for the LGBTQIA+ community” who “has fought for a fully inclusive church that is welcoming to people of all races, all genders, and all sexual orientations.”
“Unfortunately, Duke’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.”
Duke said he had never heard of the series until he was contacted by Evansville’s Pride board, and asked if he’d be interested in participating in the show.
“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.”
Duke also said he wanted to participate in the show to support his daughter, who came out as pansexual two years ago.
“I’m hoping it’s a bridge — for my daughter, for the church I serve, for the denomination I love and for me — and I’m hoping my voice will become stronger,” he said on the show.