US Pastor Loses Ministry after Performing in Drag on HBO

 US Pastor Loses Ministry after Performing in Drag on HBO

© Jakes Giles Netter / HBO

A local church official in Indiana said Wednesday that a US pastor who made a brief television appearance in drag, wearing a huge pink wig and sequined leotard, has been removed from his ministry.

Craig Duke, 62, made a significant impact on the HBO show “We’re Here” while wearing high-heeled thigh boots, lipstick and purple eyeshadow, and a crucifix around his neck.

In an interview with Religion News Service, the Methodist reverend described the appearance as “an incredibly wonderful, refreshing, deepening, powerful spiritual experience.”

But he rapidly got into trouble with his flock.

Having receivednumerous calls and emails that are highly critical of Craigâs actions,” Mitch Gieselman, the district superintendent of the church in Evansville, Indiana, said he had decided to relieve Duke of pastoral duties and “significantly reduced” his salary.

But Gieselman said he had not been fired nor had he resigned.

He has not been found to have committed any chargeable offense or other violation of the United Methodist Book of Discipline,” Gieselman said in a letter to parishioners.

When contacted by AFP on Wednesday, Gieselman declined to comment further.

The pastor’s fate triggered a surge of emotion, resulting in an online fundraiser that generated nearly $60,000 on Wednesday.

May the bridge of understanding and acceptance of the LGBTQ community continue to expand across our community and beyond as God’s love shines through,” the pastor and his partner Linda said in a statement.

He has no regrets about his moment in the limelight.

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,” he said.

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