For making a brief television appearance as a drag queen, wearing a massive pink wig and a sequined leotard, an American Protestant pastor was removed from his ministry, the local official of his congregation confirmed to AFP on Wednesday.
Craig Duke, 62, made a very noticed passage – at least by some of his horrified parishioners – on the HBO channel’s show “We’re Here” last month: we see him wearing High-heeled thigh-high boots, a crucifix around the neck, with lipstick and thick purple eyeshadow.
Following this media moment, which he described as a “powerful spiritual moment”, in an interview with the agency Religion News Service, the pastor member of the United Methodist Church found himself immersed in a heated controversy.
It front of “many very critical calls and emails”, but also of support, the local leader of this church decided to “to be part of his pastoral mission” Pastor Duke, cutting his salary and forbidding him to perform religious services in his church near Evansville, in the northern state of Indiana.
However, wished to temper Mitch Gieselman, in a letter to parishioners, Pastor Duke “has not been found responsible for any breach of the disciplinary regulations” of the United Methodist Church.
Contacted by AFP on Wednesday, Mr. Gieselman confirmed the authenticity of his letter dated November 26, declining to make any further comments.
The pastor’s fate aroused a surge of emotion, illustrated by an online fundraiser which totaled nearly $ 60,000 in donations on Wednesday. “May the bridge of understanding and acceptance of the LGBTQ community extend through our community and beyond”, wished the pastor and his companion on Wednesday, in a statement.
He did not seem to regret his brilliance: “I was immersed in a culture in which I had never been immersed”, he welcomed, “and in a (religious) ministry, if you want to involve people who are different from you, you have to go and meet them. The invitation to this program allowed me to do so”, he concluded.