Sunday, November 05, 2006

Pastor Ted Haggard, methamphetamine, and the gay male prostitute

Thursday November 2
Updated and videos added 6/11/06

Until this weekend Pastor Ted Haggard was President of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), and the founder and pastor of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was also a founder of the Association of Life-Giving Churches.

He's recently been featured on a couple of documentaries - the first was by Professor Richard Dawkins called The Root of all Evil? in which Dawkins argues that the world would be better off without religion. As part of the documentary he visited Pastor Ted and the New Life Church and discussed religion, arrogance and evolution with him. Pastor Ted gets a bit miffed at the end of the interview, and eventually ends up threatening to throw Dawkins and his crew off his property. It's a classic!

Ted Haggard is also a strong supporter of George W Bush, and has been credited with rallying evangelicals to vote for Bush during the 2004 Presidential election. He also claimed to speak to Bush or his advisers every Monday, when they would discuss spiritual and policy matters, and he has described himself as Bush's "spiritual adviser".

According to Wikipedia:

Haggard has condemned homosexuality, preaching that "we don't have to debate about what we should think about homosexual activity, it's written in the Bible." Haggard opposes same-sex marriage, but has suggested that states should be free to enact civil unions for homosexual couples.

Under Haggard's leadership, the NAE released "For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility" in the fall of 2004, "a document urging engagement in traditional culture war issues such as abortion and gay marriage but also poverty, education, taxes, welfare and immigration." The NAE has stated that "[h]omosexual activity, like adulterous relationships, is clearly condemned in the Scriptures." Haggard focused ministry efforts on homosexuals early in his Colorado Springs ministry by frequenting gay bars and inviting men to his congregation.
On Thursday a gay male prostitute by the name of Mike Jones came forward to say that Haggard had been paying $200 for the prostitute's services every month for 3 years, and that he had also bought methamphetamine from Jones, which he would snort before sex, to instensify the experience.

Jones had only known Haggard as "Art" for most of the past three years, but claimed that about 6 months ago he saw Pastor Ted (whose middle name is Arthur) on a TV documentary and recognised him as his client. As he found out more about who this man really was, and about his anti-gay stance, Mike Jones became more and more angry, and decided to out him.

From Wikipedia:
Jones made his outing allegations against Haggard in response to Haggard's political support for a proposed amendment on the November 7, 2006 Colorado ballot that would ban same-sex marriage in that state. Jones told ABC News, "I had to expose the hypocrisy. He is in the position of influence of millions of followers, and he's preaching against gay marriage. But behind everybody's back [he's] doing what he's preached against." Jones hoped that his statements would sway voters.
Jones volunteered to take a polygraph test on the radio station where he first made his allegations. Although he failed the part of the test where he answered questions about his sexual relationship with Haggard, the test administrator expressed doubt about the accuracy of the test, due to the stress Jones was under as a result of his allegations, and the fact that he has been unable to sleep or eat during the past few days.

From Wikipedia:
Haggard initially claimed he had never heard of his accuser and denied all allegations. Later however, Haggard stepped down as president of the National Association of Evangelicals. He stated, "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."

On November 2, 2006, senior church officials told Colorado Springs television station KKTV that Haggard has admitted to some of the claims made by Jones. In an e-mail to New Life Church parishioners sent on the evening of November 2, Acting Senior Pastor Ross Parsley wrote, "It is important for you to know that he [Haggard] confessed to the overseers that some of the accusations against him are true."

Here's the video of Haggard's initial denial and Parsley's later admission - and a short interview with Mike Jones:

Haggard admitted on November 3 that he had purchased methamphetamine and received a massage from Jones, but he denied using the drugs or having sex with Jones.

Here's the video:

Voice analysis expert Richard Sanders has compared the voice of Haggard from a television interview to that of the voicemails released by Jones and announced preliminary results stating that the voice on the voicemail is most likely that of Haggard. According to an article from KUSA, "Sanders makes his decision by comparing the resonance of the voice, the play of one's tongue and the inflection of vowel sounds."

Here's one of the voicemails:

And here's the interview with the voice analysis expert:

The "Overseer Board of New Life Church," released a prepared statement on the afternoon of November 4 that stated: "Our investigation and Pastor Haggard's public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct." The board cited the bylaws of the mega-church and said his conduct required them to remove him from his job.

And finally, here's a 10-minute interview with Mike Jones, the male escort.

You see, Ted, it's the hypocrisy that I just can't stand. Have sex with who you like, it doesn't bother me one bit and normally I would consider it to be none of my business (although I'm guessing it might justifiably bother your wife to whom you are supposed to be faithful) - but don't then go on and on about the sanctity of marriage, and Family Values, and how Gay Marriage will be the end of the world as we know it, and that the Bible says homosexuality is a sin!

Because that makes you a complete and utter lying hypocrite, not to mention the pain and suffering you must have caused to closeted gays in your own community - and that's a BAD THING.

As a general rule I strongly believe that a person's sexuality is no business of anyone else's, and I do not approve of "outing" someone. However, I think it does become everyone's business when a person who is vociferously opposed to something (such as homosexuality) and is in a position of influence and power is found to be secretly condoning or even indulging in that very thing they have been publicly campaigning against!

What makes me angry is that this man was the head of a 14,000 member church, and the President of an organisation of over 30 million evangelists. That makes him a very powerful person, someone who sets an example for the people around him, someone they look up to, and someone who gives them a great deal of guidance on how they should live their lives.

One of the many things he preaches about is the evil of homosexuality, and how it is against God's law. Not only that, but this man has influence in the White House and has lobbied for law change in relation to gay marriage, including a bill in his own state.

And yet... and yet... at the same time as telling his followers that gays are bad and homosexuality is evil and that gays should never, ever be allowed to marry, (and trying to get laws passed that actively discriminate against gays) he’s off shagging a gay male prostitute once a month! Utter utter hypocrisy.

It’s a classic case of not practicing what you preach, and I don't think Jesus likes hypocrisy, Ted. Check this one out for starters:

And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? [Matthew 7:3]

Oh and Ted? Meth is illegal and your church is opposed to drug use. Just sayin'.

Interesting links

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