March 18, 2007
Still not completely heterosexual
Somebody else is going to hell, too:
They have had four months to reflect, and the senior staff of New Life Church can now look back and see the warning signs.
Not one suspect-
ed that their high-profile pas-
tor, the Rev. Ted Haggard, had been secretly visiting a male prostitute. But they see now what they should have seen then: that Haggard talked too much about sex; that he could be crudely suggestive; that he seemed to need to push boundaries.
And that no one ever called him on any of it.
“His loose discussions about sexuality might have seemed refreshingly raw and real, especially since church had always been so stuffy and prudish in the past,” said Rob Brendle, associate pastor of the megachurch in Colorado Springs, Colo. “In retrospect, some of his comments and interactions that at the time seemed edgy, but innocent enough, now seem questionable.”
A team of pastors assigned to investigate Haggard after he admitted in November to “sexual immorality” has concluded his behavior went beyond merely questionable.
The board of overseers uncovered a pattern of troubling behavior — “everything from sordid conversation to overt suggestions to improper activities to improper relationships,” the Rev. Larry Stockstill told the New Life congregation in a report last month.
Stockstill would not divulge details, but he and the other investigators concluded that Haggard — who is in therapy and preparing to leave Colorado Springs — suffered from “habitual, life-controlling problems.” They called it “a matter of grace” that the pastor was caught in his relationship with prostitute Mike Jones of Denver.
… A “moral audit” of senior [New Life] staff uncovered one other example of unspecified sexual sin, Brendle said. The staff member involved — who led a ministry for young adults — resigned. The remain-
ing leaders of the church have vowed to hold one another accountable for their words and actions, hoping to wipe out what London called “a culture of enabling” that fueled Haggard’s indiscretions.
As an example of Haggard’s inappropriate remarks, Brendle cited the pastor’s boast to a documentary filmmaker that “evangelicals have the best sex life of any other group.”
In front of the church, with the cameras rolling, Haggard then pulled aside two men from his congregation and asked how often their wives experienced orgasm. The clip is in Alexandra Pelosi’s documentary “Friends of God,” and is now on YouTube.
And remember: nobody at New Life thought this was strange. Sounds like they are coming to their senses now, though:
Donations to the church, the largest in Colorado, have dropped about 8% since the scandal broke. New Life took in $4.9 million from November through Feb-
ruary, compared with $5.3 million in the same period a year earlier, Brendle said.
The drop recently forced the church to lay off 44 of its 350 workers, among them pastoral staff, administrative assistants and child-care providers.
Attendance at New Life is also down, roughly 15%, Brendle said.
Pastor Ted is still in good shape, however: despite being “permanently removed” from the leadership of New Life—and told to leave town—he’s still receiving his $130,000-a-
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