November 2, 2006
Given the focus of this blog, I’d be remiss if I didn’t draw attention to Pastor Ted Haggard’s alleged gay affair and methamphetamine use; or to the fact that that he has now stepped down as president of the National Association of Evangelicals (permanently), and as head of his megachurch (“temporarily”); or to note that with friends like this, he really doesn’t stand a chance:
A prominent evangelical preacher is temporarily stepping down amid allegations by a former gay male escort that the two had a three-year sexual relationship, according to a church spokeswoman.
Ted Haggard, founder of the 14,000-member New Life Church and president of the National Association of Evangelicals, told KUSA Channel 9 that the escort is lying. “I’ve never had a gay relationship with anybody, and I’m steady with my wife. I’m faithful to my wife,” Haggard said.
Haggard is taking a voluntary administration leave as senior pastor to allow an independent board of overseers to investigate the allegations, said his niece Carolyn Haggard.
Mike Jones, 59, of Denver, made his allegations on the Peter Boyles show on KHOW 630 AM, saying he was compelled to come forward because he believes Haggard, an opponent of same-sex unions, is being hypocritical.
… Jones, who told a bankruptcy judge last year that he is a self-employed fitness consultant, told Boyles that he was paid money by Haggard, who he says made frequent trips to Denver for sexual liaisons, that he has recorded voicemails and a letter from Haggard, and that he had also witnessed Haggard use methamphetamine.
… Jones offered to take a polygraph examination, and Boyles said that will occur Friday during his morning radio show.
Some community leaders in the Colorado Springs had scheduled a rally this afternoon in support of Haggard but canceled the gathering at the request of the church.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t highlight the early years of Pastor Ted’s ministry:
At the time, Colorado Springs was a small city split between the Air Force and the New Age, and the latter, Pastor Ted believed, worked for the devil. Pastor Ted soon began upsetting the devil's plans. He staked out gay bars, inviting men to come to his church; his whole congregation pitched itself into invisible battles with demonic forces, sometimes in front of public buildings.
Sounds like they lost at least one battle. Still, Haggard’s World Prayer Center sounds very nice, if a little overdone:
The atrium is a soaring foyer adorned with the flags of the nations and guarded by [a] bronze warrior angel, a scowling, bearded type with massive biceps and, again, a sword. The angel’s pedestal stands at the center of a great, eight-pointed compass laid out in muted red, white, and blue-black stone. Each point directs the eye to a contemporary painting, most depicting gorgeous, muscular men—one is a blacksmith, another is bound, fetish-style, in chains—in various states of undress. My favorite is The Vessel, by Thomas Blackshear, a major figure in the evangelical-art world. Here in the World Prayer Center is a print of The Vessel, a tall, vertical panel of two nude, ample-breasted, white female angels team-
pouring an urn of honey onto the shaved head of a naked, olive-skinned man below. The honey drips down over his slab-like pecs and his six-pack abs into the eponymous vessel, which he holds in front of his crotch. But the vessel can’t handle that much honey, so the sweetness oozes over the edges and spills down yet another level, presumably onto our heads, drenching us in golden, godly love. Part of what makes Blackshear’s work so compelling is precisely its unabashed eroticism; it aims to turn you on, and then to turn that passion toward Jesus.
To quote John Aravosis, nothing gay there.
The rabidly, uh, anti-gay Haggard likes to boast that he has “direct access” to the Bush White House. I’m guessing it just got a little less direct.
UPDATE 11/03/06: After vehemently denying the allegations yesterday, Haggard has now admitted that they are true.
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