Discrimination | Religion | Video

Church Loses 80 Percent Of Congregation After Driving Out Gay Choral Director: VIDEO

Adam Fraley

The laws for the United Methodist Church say that gay men and women are welcomed and are allowed to be members of the church; however, they are forbidden from having any sort of leadership position. This was the rationale used when the United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Indiana chose to not re-hire choral director Adam Fraley, who was driven from his position by a new minister after six years of service to the church.

The decision to not re-hire was apparently made by interim minister David Mantor, and when David Steele, who worked as an intermediary between the congregation and the minister, supported Fraley, Mantor told Steele he could no longer serve the church. This decision was upheld by the district superintendent who said Steele was neglecting his duty for not supporting the decisions of the minister and fired him. Said Steele of Mantor's decisions:

It's almost like he's hijacked the church. He is completely going against what the church body wants.

The church body supports Steele's assertion as 80% of the congregation chose to stop attending over how Fraley was treated. The former members have rallied around Fraley and his partner with support.

You can see a video interview with Fraley and Steele AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. I love it. Boycott the church. Wonder how many other incidents like this happen that aren't covered in the media.

    In 1998, I remember my mom telling me about how she walked out of her church because of the hate speech. She had attended for more than 20 years and she got fed up. I thanked her, of course, but knew in the back of my mind that it was only one person's actions and probably wouldn't amount to much.

    Today, with 80% of a congregation abandoning their church - WOW, how far we have come.

    Posted by: Mark | Jan 15, 2014 8:19:26 AM

  2. Now that's a statement.

    Posted by: Jack M | Jan 15, 2014 8:27:51 AM

  3. We'll see more and more of this. And long past time.

    Posted by: Lymis | Jan 15, 2014 8:52:16 AM

  4. I like those who call themselves Christians better today. Bravo to this congregation.

    Posted by: Just_a_guy | Jan 15, 2014 9:12:43 AM

  5. So? They chose to flee rather than stay and confront the bigoted pastor. They chose to flee rather than confront the bishop who appointed the bigoted pastor. They chose to flee rather than actually work for change in their church.

    That makes them abject cowards, not allies. You will understand why I don't give a flying fk.

    Posted by: Gregory In Seattle | Jan 15, 2014 9:12:49 AM

  6. @Gregory, I don't think you get the point. Leaving (not fleeing) the congregation sent a very loud and clear message to the church. Working within the system takes a long time; doing something like this took courage, not cowardice.

    Posted by: Jack M | Jan 15, 2014 9:21:35 AM

  7. Adam's interests might be better served if he simply gave up on ridiculous ancient superstitions used to justify bigotry and intolerance.

    The reason Sky Monster does not hate teh gays is that there is no Sky Monster.

    Posted by: Steve Rider | Jan 15, 2014 9:28:46 AM

  8. Let us begin today's sermon with the parable of "the good people who left the wicked church"

    Posted by: JonnyNYNY2FLFL | Jan 15, 2014 9:28:52 AM

  9. @Jack M - Working within the system takes time, which they were either too cowardly or too lazy to put in.

    Posted by: Gregory In Seattle | Jan 15, 2014 9:32:36 AM

  10. They should form their own church. That's more in the spirit of the gospels, anyway.

    Posted by: stevetalbert | Jan 15, 2014 9:39:44 AM

  11. Shut up, Steve Rider, with your atheist rants.

    Posted by: Javier | Jan 15, 2014 9:41:13 AM

  12. 80% of the church members choosing to leave will certainly hurt the church, mostly in the checkbook. Without those tithes, the church will not be able to pay the mortgage on all the buildings and land they've acquired or the salaries of its employees. I think simply leaving is a great thing to do.

    Posted by: Michael W. | Jan 15, 2014 9:50:47 AM

  13. Fantastic.

    Anything that damages religion needs to be celebrated.

    Religious belief is a mental illness.

    Posted by: MaryM | Jan 15, 2014 9:59:53 AM

  14. All choir directors are gay, so the church better suck it up and rehire him.

    Posted by: anon | Jan 15, 2014 10:10:22 AM

  15. I think there's a disproportionately large percentage of gay men serving in the music programs of most churches. That's just a personal observation from having worked in the field - I have no hard data to back it up. While I recognize the right of any religious organization to hold fast to their beliefs even to the point of hiring/firing, I think churches who do will find themselves singing along with pre-recorded/pre-programed music. Good that this congregation made a stand. I hope that they are withholding their offerings/pledges during their absence. Hitting them in the pocketbook is the only thing likely to really get their attention.

    Posted by: norseman | Jan 15, 2014 10:13:50 AM

  16. Without a weekly cash injection (offering plate every Sunday) this church will go under in no time.

    Leaving was the fastest and strongest way to make a point: Put him back in or GO UNDER.

    Posted by: johnny | Jan 15, 2014 10:14:36 AM

  17. What did they expect? The man-made laws of this "church" state that no gay person can be in a position of authority. If they disagree, they shouldn't be a member of this "church" in the first place. 20 percent of this "church" stayed. Just quit going to churches that are bigoted and hate gays. It's like all the numb skulls supporting the new pope. He hasn't changed his mind about gays going to hell, he is just not saying it as clearly as all other popes. Catholics, REAL Catholics, don't believe in homosexuality. If you are gay and attending these churches, you are a hypocrite and you're probably surrounded by hypocrites. That's my opinion.

    Posted by: Wendell | Jan 15, 2014 10:17:14 AM

  18. The reaction speaks strongly.

    Posted by: Matt27 | Jan 15, 2014 10:23:35 AM

  19. "Adam's interests might be better served if he simply gave up on ridiculous ancient superstitions used to justify bigotry and intolerance."

    A valid point, but some gay organists/choir directors just love the work, and, since there aren't exactly any secular humanist churches, they have no choice if they want to be in that field.

    Posted by: EchtKultig | Jan 15, 2014 10:31:33 AM

  20. Gregory in Seattle, your comment indicates that you have no idea how the United Methodist Church is structured.

    Posted by: Sam | Jan 15, 2014 10:36:00 AM

  21. Chances are that the 80% who left the church didn't stop attending church altogether, they moved to other, more accepting Methodist churches or to different denominations. So actually this is very effective way to protest the new pastor's actions.

    I'd imagine that a lot of the anger that motivated those people to leave was as much about the new pastor's dictatorial style as it is about the treatment of the choral director. The guy is barely in the door and already he's firing people who have FAR longer and deeper ties to the congregation than he does, imposing his own views on the congregation before he even gets there? That tends not to go over so well

    Posted by: Caliban | Jan 15, 2014 10:45:40 AM

  22. I smell corruption and embezzlement by the church....

    Posted by: Ankerich | Jan 15, 2014 10:48:54 AM

  23. I agree with you Caliban, that is quite a sound and thought filled statement!

    Posted by: Gaiboi | Jan 15, 2014 11:01:40 AM

  24. Yes, you can be gay and a christian. You can also be gay and a serial killer.

    How about taking this opportunity to finally rid your life of all this fairy tale nonsense and start being gay and rational, instead?

    Posted by: oncemorewithfeeling | Jan 15, 2014 11:11:39 AM

  25. I am a the Director of Music and choir director at a UMC church in a town fifteen miles from Alexandria. I have worked and worshiped in this church for more than a decade. Ten years ago, our organist and pianist were a couple, and their relationship was presented to the congregants by the minister as an example of God's love working in their lives. This was rather controversial, as public opinion on the issue was very different in 2004. Just this past weekend, our current pastor spoke out against Indiana's HJR-3. She reported yesterday at our staff meeting that she had not received a single negative response. She also shared that there is some confusion amongst church leaders as to why this is happening in Alexandria in the first place, as there is no UMC policy prohibiting gay people from being a part of any aspect of involvement in church leadership, outside of ordination.

    It's worthy of note that a great deal of American Methodists strongly oppose its policies on same-sex ministers and marriage. Efforts to make changes (real and linguistic) to the UMC Book of Discipline regarding the "gay issues" have been scuttled at recent UMC general conferences by an alliance of pastors from Africa and the southeast portion of America.

    I realize that there are some who think it's just crazy for a gay person to work in a church, but I can only attest to the support and kindness I have been shown in the Methodist church as a musician, church leader, and human being. I have been unequivocally embraced and loved by the people in my church. The winds of change are blowing quickly through the church, and the larger UMC is coming around. I pray that the awful situation in Alexandria results in continued conversation about the importance of openness and equality within the UMC body.

    Posted by: Chris | Jan 15, 2014 11:24:23 AM

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