Ted Haggard is an important Christianist and an opponent of same-sex marriage. He runs a megachurch in Colorado with his wife with whom he has five children. Until today he was the president of the National Association of Evangelicals. And he wrote the Christian diet book!
Now he has been accused of frequenting a prostitute. A male prostitute:
The former prostitute, Mike Jones, 49, of Denver, went public with the accusations on Tuesday, saying he felt compelled to do so because he believes Haggard, a strong opponent of same-sex unions, has been hypocritical. Haggard is married with five children.
"I made myself cry and I made myself sick," Jones said about his decision to come forward. "I felt I owed this to the community. What he is saying is we are not worthy, but he is."
Jones says he was contacted three years ago by Haggard for sex - he thinks through a gay newspaper advertisement or an online ad he posted on rentboy.com.
Today, Jones showed the Denver Post an envelope addressed to him from "Art," a name Jones says Haggard used - sent from an address in Colorado Springs. Jones said the envelope came to him with two $100 bills inside.
Jones also played a recording of a voicemail left for Jones from "Art." Jones refused to reveal what the topic of the voicemail was about because there could be legal problems and he wants to consult with an attorney.
"They want to protect the sanctity of marriage and I am trying to figure out what that means because they are not doing a good job," Jones said of anti-gay marriage proponents. "To have someone in such a high profile position preaching against them and doing opposite behind other people's backs is hypocritical."
Haggard is supposed to have the ear of president George Bush, or so he has said. He is not your run-of-a-mill wingnut but a mega-giga-wingnut, and that is why this story is all over the news tonight. Note that the accusations against Haggard have not been proved and may be baseless. Still, this suggests something different:
Rev. Ted Haggard, Senior Pastor of New Life Church, stated today that he could "not continue to minister under the cloud created by the accusations made on Denver talk radio this morning." He, therefore, placed himself on administrative leave, pending investigation, spiritual counsel, and a decision by the church's board of overseers. Pastor Haggard said, "I am voluntarily stepping aside from leadership so that the overseer process can be allowed to proceed with integrity. I hope to be able to discuss this matter in more detail at a later date. In the interim, I will seek both spiritual advice and guidance."
Pastor Haggard also resigned today as President of the National Association of Evangelicals.
This topic is not something I enjoy writing about. My blogger ethics angel is grabbing my right shoulder yelling at me not to write about the private lives of people in the public eye. Why couldn't Haggard be gay or bisexual and still against gay marriage? It's not the business of a snake goddess to judge him. And the case is just accusations right now.
But the angel (or devil?) squatting on my other shoulder yells back about the dishonesty and insincerity of someone who preaches others how to live their lives yet hides his own struggles so carefully. Pretends that they don't exist.
And the idea of involuntary outing. It is wrong because of the harmful consequences to those outed. But these consequences are partly caused by people like Haggard, people who preach that homosexuality is a sin. People who make it acceptable to dislike and even hate gays or lesbians.
I'm still not sure if this is a useful post.
Added Friday morning: This Harper's article in Haggard's church is...alarming.