An Indiana pastor was “relieved of his duties” at his church after he appeared in an episode of the HBO docuseries We’re Here. Rev. Craig Duke, who formerly led the congregation at Newburgh United Methodist Church, faced a “challenging experience” at home after coming back from shooting the episode, part of which included a drag performance of a Kesha song by Duke. A Nov. 26 letter to the church community from a local official cited “numerous calls and emails that are highly critical of Craig’s actions” and “numerous messages of support for him.” Though Craig has not technically been “fired,” the official said, nor had he “resigned,” his relief of duty means he’ll no longer be involved with the church in any capacity beyond drawing “a significantly reduced salary” until February.
Duke had accepted a nomination from an LGBTQ+ organization to appear on We’re Here because, he said, he wanted to support his daughter, who is pansexual. Following filming, he called it “an incredibly wonderful, refreshing, deepening, powerful spiritual experience.” As of Tuesday, a crowdfunding effort to help him and his wife had raised over $44,000. “Basically, they bullied him right out of his job at the church because he is a person who believes in love and acceptance and faith and inclusion,” Shangela Laquifa Wadley, one of the show’s hosts, said in a Instagram video response. “That is wrong.”