Updated: Haggard has apparently confessed.
Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals and pastor of a huge megachurch, has stepped down as NAE leader after a male prostitute went public and said that Haggard had been paying him for sex regularly for 3 years.
Mike Jones, 49, told The Associated Press that Haggard paid him to have sex nearly every month for three years. His allegations were first aired on KHOW-AM in Denver.
Jones said that he had advertised himself as an escort on the Internet and that a man who called himself Art contacted him. Jones said he later saw the man on television identified as Haggard.
He said that he last had sex with Haggard in August and that he did not warn him before making his allegations this week.
Jones said he has voice mail messages from Haggard, as well as an envelope he said Haggard used to mail him cash, though he declined to make any of it available to the AP.
Haggard denied the allegations:
Haggard, a married father of five, denied the allegations in an interview with KUSA-TV late Wednesday: "Never had a gay relationship with anybody, and I'm steady with my wife, I'm faithful to my wife."
In a written statement, 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."
His supporters will stand behind him, of course, while his detractors will presume it's true. If the guy actually does have voice mails and an envelope that could be identified as coming from Haggard, he needs to make them public along with the allegations. If he does not make them available, and soon, he'll lose credibility and there will be no reason to believe him.
Still, it certainly shouldn't surprise anyone if it turns out to be true. After Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart and countless others, only the breathtakingly naive are still shocked by things like this. And if it's not true? Well, that wouldn't be a big shock either. He's an easy target for such allegations, which is why the accuser needs to either put up or shut up.
Update: According to this blog, the church leadership has sent out an email saying that Haggard has confessed:
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.
Update #2: According to this AP report, the voice mails were analyzed and found to be Haggard. But the voice mails referred not to anything sexual but to methamphetamines, which the prostitute supplied him with. That was the second allegation. So it may well be that he has confessed to the meth problem, but not to the gay sex.
Ed, check here. A Denver TV station has already had an expert go over the voice mails and compare.
If this guy hadn't spoken out against homosexuality and gay marriage the prostitute may never have come forward, in my opinion. Haggard probably could have kept the whole thing secret. What I don't seem to get, though, is that he speaks out against homosexuality because it's against his beliefs yet does it anyways! Either A)he was just denying what he really is and praying for forgiveness privately or B)he really didn't care about the beliefs and was just in it for the money.
Haggard's supporters are behind him of course. I heard one quoted on the radio this morning as saying it couldn't possibly be true, and besides, "people are always saying things about Ted." Hm, smoke, have you met fire?
And they are also saying it is political, to make the claim now, just before the election. Well, duh. There is a ballot question in Colorado that would add a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage in the state. Guess who has been a vocal opponent of homosexuality and a supporter of this amendment. If you said Ted Haggard, well, you're right.
This is the guy Dawkins interviewed in "The Root of All Evil?" He's an exremely creepy sociopath.
Susan, you're right. I didn't even make that connnection. He definitely is a really creepy guy.
He's admitted that some of the allegations are true according to a New Life Church email list.
I expect Haggard is going to admit to the drug use and deny til the day he dies that he ever had gay sex. The recorded tapes make it virtually impossible for him to deny that he bought drugs from the male prostitute, and we shall soon be hearing the words "entering rehab" for the upteenth time from a Republican bigwig this year.
He will be forgiven by his flock (since he will blame drug use on Satan and the pressures of the job). He will be reinstated as pastor after a suitable length of time has passed, and will continue to rail against homosexuality while all the while continuing to indulge in secret self-loathing because of sexual desires he want to be rid of but will always he part of him.
Wow, what a shock. I'm very surprised to hear that the fundies are such a gullible lot. In other news: 2+2=4! Wow! News at eleven!
It is simply too delicious. The things that are rattling around in my brain about Mr H... Hooboy! The bummer of it all is that I suspect that the vast majority of his followers won't see him for the sham that he is, and will most likely believe whatever lies he spews to try to weasel out of being a huge hypocrite.
How much a naif must one be to accept "I did meth, but I didn't have sex with a male prostitute who was my connection." Is a male prostitute the only dope connection he could find? Of ALL the dope dealers out there, he couldn't find a hetero one? I mean, come on, with his famous antipathy toward gays one would think he would take his business elsewhere, wouldn't one? Or did his big, forgiving, xtian heart tell him, "God will forgive me if I buy my dangerous, dirty, illegal meth from a homosexual whore?"
I'm just askin'.
Am I the only one who finds this sad? I mean this guy has been denying his true self for most, or all, of his life. He needs someone to help him come to terms with his sexuality so he can become a healthy human being. Then he needs to apologize to the gay community for his hostile behavior.
writerdd - That's why he has agreed to be on the lead float for the next Pride Day Celebration Parade! His friends have all told him he looks so cute in leather!
Plus, now he can save a lot of money shopping at walMart, so don't feel sorry for him!
I've had friends who've struggled with their sexuality, but I don't think that's the same thing that's going on here. I think there's a much deeper pathology at play with men like Haggard than mere denial of their own nature. I think these men are simply frauds and cons who've found a good racket to fleece people with and get rich. I think they know very well who they are and everything else is just a cover for their zeal for power and wealth.
By the way, the prostitute failed his polygraph this morning:
Not that that is conclusive of anything, of course. I would have trouble passing one on live radio if I were accusing someone more rich and powerful, with loads of zealous accolytes.
As for the hypocricy, there is more to it than Ed's these men are simply frauds and cons who've found a good racket to fleece people with and get rich.
That's part of it, of course. But more to the point, people who deal with any depravity (real or imagined) on a regular basis have a tendency to fall into it. Some time ago there was a truly chilling account online of a journalist who specialized in covering sex abuse cases and how his life (and the lives of many of the other people involved in the cases) gradually spun out of control. I guess the moral is always make sure your rehab counselor has already been through rehab.
Also keep in mind that in the fundie world-view, being the active participant in homosexual relations does not make you gay. That is why the percentage of men in Arab countries who have engaged in sex with another man is staggeringly high, but the men themselves say they are not gay: It's the boy (usually) on the receiving end who is gay. In the same vein, Senator McCarthy and Roy Cohn both denied being gay.
Finally, Haggard may not have viewed gay sex as sinful per se in his case. Romans 1 lists "unnatural" sex as a symptom of sin in one's life, not necessarily the sin itself. So Haggard could have deluded himself that the drug use was his sin and the gay sex just a symptom of the other problem, sort of a fringe benefit. There's a lot going on here.
Sure, it may simply be a case of zeal for power, but there are elements in some forms of Christian theology which are ... disturbing.
Human nature is depraved and corrupt with filth and sin; Man can never be "good enough" to merit God's forgiveness; God therefore chose a method to bring mankind closer to him which requires that we accept ourselves as miserable sinners who are not in control; the deeper we fall, the more aware of our unworthiness we become -- and the more we recognize our need for salvation, and our need to put ourselves in God's control.
Sinful acts therefore end up being blessings in disguise, as they bring us closer to God when we "repent." We are not perfect, or even good: we can only be forgiven by accepting Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. God ends up loving the sheep who strays more than the one who doesn't, because the sheep who strays is humbled.
I think that if you really, really take this seriously, there's a kind of hidden payoff to committing moral crimes. It's as if you're in a win-win situation. You either follow God's standards in obedience, or reinforce God's mastery and your own unworthiness by falling short. And there's a lot of drama in that second option.
According to the Rocky Mountain News, Haggard has now admitted receiving a massage from the escort. I was beginning to believe that it would play out as just the drugs and not the sex. Looks now like it ain't so.
I do feel a bit of regret for his wife and kids. At least for the double-whammy they're about to be hit with. Chances are the kids have been around an anti-gay message their whole lives from the most important male role model in their lives. Just how many lives are going to be ruined by this one man's inability to be an adult and control himself? A tragedy all around.
Chances are the kids have been around an anti-gay message their whole lives from the most important male role model in their lives.
Ohhh! Poor babies, born with a silver cross round their neck, now have to deal with the real world. Pooooooor babies. Now what were these poor babies doing while Daddy was up on stage inciting hate against homosexuals? What were these poor babies doing while kids their age were slitting their wrists and getting pushed down stairs and getting thrown out of their homes because of Daddys hate speech?
Haggard was ruining lives long before this fiasco.
I dont give a crap about his kids.
(Note-- Im appreciate your sympathy for them, Shawn, but I cant even pretend to give a shit)
Haggard was ruining lives long before this fiasco.
That was the point I was trying, and obviously failed, to make. Thanks for being so much more succinct, ERV.