Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

80% of Indiana Church Quits after Gay Choir Director Adam Fraley Pushed Out

An Indiana church has seen attendance drop by around 80 percent after its gay choir director left his position over work pressure he says is due to his sexual orientation.

WISHTV reports 34-year-old Adam Fraley, formerly choir director at Alexandria First United Methodist Church, resigned his position under the church’s previous interim minister after his workload was significantly increased.

“I do wonder if the fact that I’m gay had something to do with the amount of workload I was given,” Fraley told WISHTV.

Fraley said he hoped to return as choir director under the new interim minister, David Mantor, and contacted David Steele, the church’s lay minister, to discuss that possibility. Steele says he spoke with Mantor, who at first said he was okay with Fraley’s return, but then changed his mind.

“The pastor that’s currently at the church doesn’t want to work, or doesn’t feel like he can work, with somebody that is like me,” Fraley said.

Steele said Mantor told him he didn’t want Fraley to return because his homosexuality was a “moral issue.”

United Methodist Church law states that while gays are welcome as congregation members, “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve,” because “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”

While Fraley was not open about his sexuality while working at the church, he did attend services with his partner, and members of the church said it was “obvious” that he is gay.

The definition of ‘serve’ has been hotly debated at the Alexandria church and beyond. Dan Gangler, director of communications for the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church, told the Anderson Herald-Bulletin that “any other leadership positions” aside from ordained clergy “should be filled at the discretion of the congregation and the minister.”

If the congregation had its way, Fraley would likely have his old job back. According to the Herald-Bulletin, around 80 percent of the church’s congregation has left over the issue.

“They all embraced him,” Nancy Steele, David’s wife, told the paper. “They’re upset about the way he was treated.”

Fraley said he was encouraged at the outpouring of support he’s received from his fellow church members.

“I think they got to know me first before they knew I was gay,” he told the Herald-Bulletin.

David Steele added that Mantor has “hijacked the church.”

“He’s completely going against what the church body wants,” the lay minister told the Herald-Bulletin.

Fraley said he doesn’t understand why many Christians hypocritically select which tenets of their religion to follow.

“I don’t like how people pick and choose which [Bible] verses they want to apply,” he told the Herald-Bulletin. “The Bible also says gluttony and divorce are bad but people seem to ignore these.”

Fraley said he would return as the church’s choir director if allowed to do so. David Steele would very much like for that to happen.

“We want our church back,” the lay minister told WISHTV. “We have a lot of people, especially a lot of elderly people who are lonesome for their church, but will not feel comfortable to come back with a minister who will not accept a man who we really liked as our choir director.”

“He’s a human being, and he’s a nice human being,” added Steele. “And he’s done his part. And we all support him.”

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