Friday, November 03, 2006

Evangelical Leader Resigns Amidst Allegations

We all have our dark sides. But it is often the case that the dark side of those who preach the most stridently about the evils of sexual "sins" are the ones most tormented on the inside by their own sexual struggles. From the Los Angeles Times:
The president of the National Assn. of Evangelicals resigned Thursday after his Colorado Springs, Colo., mega-church opened an investigation into allegations that he had repeatedly paid for sex with a male prostitute.

The Rev. Ted Haggard, who regularly consults with the White House on policy matters, told a Denver television station that he "never had a gay relationship with anybody" and had been faithful to his wife of 28 years.

In a statement released by New Life Church, where he is senior pastor, the 50-year-old Haggard added: "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."

The allegations were made Wednesday on a Denver talk radio station, KHOW-AM. Mike Jones, who described himself as a male escort, said he had a sexual "business relationship" with Haggard for the last three years. Jones, 49, told the Associated Press that he had saved voicemail messages from Haggard, as well as an envelope that he said Haggard had used to mail him cash.

A committee of pastors from across the country has been convened to investigate the allegations. They can "discipline me if I need to be disciplined, fire me if I need to be fired," Haggard told KUSA-TV. He also placed himself on administrative leave from the 14,000-member church pending the investigation, saying he could not continue to minister "under the cloud created by the accusations."

A father of five who dresses in blue jeans and drives a Chevy pickup, Haggard is well-known, and widely praised, as an energetic, charismatic pastor who has pushed to expand evangelical activism into issues such as global warming and world poverty. But he hasn't shied away from the traditional culture-war issues of abortion and homosexuality.

A lengthy profile in Harper's magazine — which is quoted approvingly on Haggard's website — recounts how he built New Life Church in part by hanging out at gay bars and inviting the patrons to come to his sermons and be saved...

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