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United Methodist pastor dives into HBO drag-queen tradition, drawing joyful RNS applause — GetReligion

Faith information shoppers who’ve been alive for just a few many years are in all probability conscious that — on points associated to the Bible and sexuality — United Methodists are, in actual fact, not united.

Anybody in search of deep background on that matter can flip to a traditional doc from the mid-Nineteen Eighties entitled “The Seven Church buildings of United Methodism.” Click here for the first of two “On Religion” columns I wrote concerning the persevering with relevance of that report, which was written by Duke College sociologist Robert L. Wilson, who died in 1991, and William Willimon, now a retired bishop.

After all, there are bipartisan plans for a United Methodist divorce that may create a extra LGBTQ-friendly model of the present denomination and a worldwide Methodist physique that may retain conventional teachings on marriage and sexuality. Maintain that thought.

Once in a while, Faith Information Service — one of many definitive sources for information on the Christian left — produces a information report that completely illustrates simply how divided Methodists are on edgy points associated to sexuality. This brings us to the following dramatic double-decker RNS headline:

Meet the United Methodist pastor featured on HBO’s drag actuality present ‘We’re Right here’

Performing in drag was an ‘extremely fantastic, refreshing, deepening, highly effective non secular expertise,’ mentioned Pastor Craig Duke of Newburgh United Methodist Church in Indiana.

Let me observe, proper up entrance, that this story opens every kind of doorways to discussions of the 2 doctrinal approaches that — on problems with biblical authority and a bunch of different points — could be discovered within the present United Methodist Church. Nonetheless, the story contains absolute zero voices from Methodists on the standard facet of those debates — even from members of the pastor’s personal congregation who could be anticipated to ask questions on his TV leap into the world of drag tradition.

Right here is the overture to this advocacy-journalism report. That is lengthy, however important:

“Welcome to church,” Pastor Craig Duke mentioned earlier than stepping onstage.

However this wasn’t the same old Sunday service Duke oversees as lead pastor of Newburgh United Methodist Church. It wasn’t held inside the partitions of his church close to Evansville, Indiana. And Duke doesn’t usually ship his sermons whereas sporting a tall pink wig and 4-inch-heeled boots. …

This service was a part of a drag present that aired on Monday evening’s episode of “We’re Here” on HBO. The Emmy-nominated actuality present follows famend drag artists Eureka O’Hara, Shangela and Bob the Drag Queen as they journey to small cities and cities throughout the USA, remodeling locals into drag queens. This week, the present got here to Evansville — and for Duke.

“It was an extremely fantastic, refreshing, deepening, highly effective non secular expertise,” Duke advised Faith Information Service. “I used to be surrounded and immersed in a tradition that I’ve by no means been immersed in, and one of many issues in ministry, if you wish to contain folks totally different than your self in your ministry, it’s a must to go to the place folks totally different than you’re. The invitation to be a part of the present allowed me that.”

There have been private and theological causes for Duke’s choice. The story notes that he has had some expertise in theater. Additionally, he was anxious to point out assist to LGBTQ folks in his personal group and, it’s implied, his congregation

One other essential issue was nearer to house. The RNS story famous that Duke wished to “present his assist for his daughter, who got here out two years in the past as pansexual.”

As for his personal native flock, the pastor famous that it’s divided on LGBTQ points, with some open to modernizing the denomination’s teachings on marriage and intercourse and others defending conventional doctrines on these hot-button points. Thus, it’s doubtless that there can be radically totally different reactions to his HBO drag efficiency.

Afterward, Duke additionally mentions that he mentioned his drag-queen efficiency along with his bishop and different related authorities. He’s satisfied that he has finished nothing that may result in cost of violating his denomination’s Ebook of Self-discipline.

This brings us to some background materials on the nationwide and international context for this story:

Duke is a pastor within the United Methodist Church, which is at the moment deadlocked over the inclusion of its LGBTQ members, together with whether or not LGBTQ United Methodists could be ordained and whether or not clergy can carry out same-sex marriages.

United Methodist leaders introduced a proposal to separate the denomination forward of the 2020 assembly of its international decision-making physique, the Basic Convention. However that assembly — in addition to any motion on the proposal — already has been postponed twice by the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

And that’s that.

It’s time to get again to the theological message on this journalistic sermon. Along with Duke, the opposite key voice is drag-star Eureka O’Hara of “We’re Right here,” who grew up in Bible Belt tradition.

Allow us to attend:

“I’m such a non secular particular person and I do consider in God. For a very long time, I hated myself and who I used to be as a result of I had been taught my total life that I used to be going to burn in hell, and that I used to be a horrible particular person,” O’Hara mentioned.

That’s not an unusual expertise for a lot of within the LGBTQ group, they mentioned.

“I believe it’s actually laborious for queer folks to get previous the trauma that was inflicted on them by folks within the church rising up. Being handled like a monster and being mistreated, it’s unfair,” O’Hara mentioned. “We should know that God loves us (too). As a result of God loves everybody, God loves all their kids. I believe that’s an essential message for folks to listen to.”

Would it not assist readers to know that there are different factors of view in these debates, together with the voices of gays and lesbians who assist conventional church doctrines? Is there any want for RNS to hunt out various United Methodist voices on the native, nationwide or international stage?

I do know, I do know. It was foolish of me to ask.

FIRST IMAGE: Screenshot from the promotional website for HBOs “We’re Here” series.

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