(OPINION) Will drag queens in the pulpit become “mainstream” in the United Methodist Church? That’s what one Methodist critic is warning after a UMC pastor in Florida invited a man dressed in women’s clothing to preach a sermon with children seated next to him during a recent church service.

Allendale UMC Senior Pastor Andy Oliver said he invited Isaac Simmons, who performs in drag as “Ms. Penny Cost,” to deliver the sermon on Oct. 2 because he wants “all people to see people like themselves called by God to preach the Gospel.”

In a Facebook post, Oliver wrote that Simmons — who was seen in a video clip of the service wearing a wig and a sequin dress — was “an angel in heels appearing to shepherds in the fields on the night shift, telling them that Good News had arrived on their doorstep.”


Oliver compared the decision to have a drag queen teach during Sunday service to other churches “putting a flag on your altar,” and called Simmons “an incredible preacher, grounded as Allendale is, in Wesleyan and liberation theology.” Mark Tooley, the president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, believes drag queens like Simmons are becoming the “new public face of United Methodism.”

“His children’s sermon and role in the Eucharist at a Florida church showcase how drag ministry will now become mainstream in the denomination,” Tooley told The Christian Post in an emailed statement. “To my knowledge, no United Methodist official, including Simmons’ bishop, has publicly expressed concern about this United Methodist drag queen.”

For Tooley, Simmons and others like him are among the reasons that United Methodism, which, as Tooley put it, “has never enjoyed a single year of growth in its 53 years, is imploding.” “Traditionalists have been given a one-year window to withdraw from the denomination with church property,” he said. “Thousands of congregations are doing so.

“Dying United Methodism faces only further tragedy ahead.” At one point during the Allendale church service, after a worship band performed a song with the lyrics “We are building up a new world/ we seek justice for all people,” two young girls wearing face coverings were seated behind Simmons as Oliver asked him about his dress. “Are you always dressed up like this?” asked Oliver. Simmons replied, “I wish!” adding, “No, I only get dressed up like this on special occasions. READ MORE