There are news reports now out of Colorado, that the Rev. Ted Haggard, the head of the National Association of Evangelicals has been living a double life. A male prostitute accused Haggard of carrying on a three-year sexual affair with him in Denver. Haggard has denied it, saying that he is faithful to his wife, and never had a gay relationship with anyone. The announcement came as Colorado is considering a marriage amendment - similar to the one in Virginia - in Tuesday's elections.
Haggard has also taken administrative leave from his church in Colorado Springs, New Life Church (http://www.newlifechurch.org). A statement from the church says that Haggard is "voluntarily stepping aside from leadership so that the overseer process can be allowed to proceed with integrity." The Denver Post also reports that Haggard's accuser has failed a lie detector test. Is that a big surprise?
According to a profile in the Denver Post, the prostitue - Mike Jones - knew Haggard as "Art." But why do we believe this? Granted, everyone has foibles, flesh and sins. But why should we take the word of someone who breaks the law for a living? Is he reliable? And apparently Haggard has admitted to some indiscretions, but they were not enumerated.
In an email to church members, Ross Parsley, whom I studied worship with three years ago, sent this e-mail to church members.
Dear New Lifers and friends of New Life Church,
Many of you have expressed concern about today's news regarding our pastor. Thank you all for your prayers and support, and for your concern for our church family.
As you've likely heard by now, Pastor Ted has voluntarily placed himself on administrative leave as New Life's senior pastor to allow our external board of overseers to work effectively. Below is the statement that we released to the media on Thursday afternoon.
Since that time, the board of overseers has met with Pastor Ted. It is important for you to know that he confessed to the overseers that some of the accusations against him are true. He has willingly and humbly submitted to the authority of the board of overseers, and will remain on administrative leave during the course of the investigation.
I am serving as the acting senior pastor of New Life Church. I met with the pastoral staff and elders Thursday night, and I assure you that the leadership team is strong and united. We remain resolute in our commitment to serving New Life Church and the people of our community.
Please continue to keep Ted and Gayle and their family in your prayers.
I love serving God with you all,
November 2, 2006
I remember when Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart had their moral laxities in the mid 1980s. One refused to get counseling and undergo church discipline (Swaggart) and the other spent time in jail (Bakker). I remember how shocked we all were when the news came out about Swaggart cavorting with a prostitute and Bakker having a torrid affair with Jessica Hahn. It sent shockwaves through a community that had supported both men.
Jones says Haggard was one of his "holdover" clients after he stopped turning tricks two years ago. Nevertheless, Jone's add for "massage" - a kind way of saying gay sex - was still in the November edition of "Out Front" magazine, a gay publication. he also field for bankruptcy in APril with $100,000 dollars in credit card debt.
Some reports have said that the accusations have political overtones because Haggard heads the National Association of Evangelicals, which supports a ban on gay marriage.
Either way, it is a sad day when (1) such an accustaion would be brought, although with the Catholic Priests scandal we probably should not be surprised when anyone falls; (2) that we would so readily believe it to be true; (3) that someone would take this incident and use it for political gain. But who am I kidding. What world do we live in? Oh yeah, that's right, this one.