What A Shock: Ted Haggard's gay cure didn't work
From the Associated Press:
Disgraced evangelical leader Ted Haggard's former church disclosed Friday that the gay sex scandal that caused his downfall extends to a young male church volunteer who reported having a sexual relationship with Haggard - a revelation that comes as Haggard tries to repair his public image.When the Haggard gay sex scandal first became public, Haggard and his gay cure team claimed that Haggard's only gay experiences were with Jones, and that he and Jones only had sex a couple of times. Jones disputed those assertions, and those assertions turn out to be lies.
Brady Boyd, who succeeded Haggard as senior pastor of the 10,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, told The Associated Press that the man came forward to church officials in late 2006 shortly after a Denver male prostitute named Mike Jones claimed to have had a three-year cash-for-sex relationship with Haggard. Haggard confessed to undisclosed "sexual immorality" after Jones' allegations and resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and from New Life Church, where he faced being fired.
Boyd said the church reached a legal settlement to pay the man for counseling and college tuition, with one condition being that none of the parties involved discuss the matter publicly. In early 2007, New Life Church disclosed that an investigation uncovered new evidence that Haggard engaged in "sordid conversation" and "improper relationships" - but didn't go into detail. Earlier, a church board member had said there was no evidence that Haggard had sexual relations with anyone but Jones.
Anticipating criticism of the settlement with the former church volunteer, Boyd said Friday that it was in the best interests of all involved. He would not name the volunteer or the settlement amount.
"It wasn't at all a settlement to make him be quiet or not tell his story," Boyd said. "Our desire was to help him. Here was a young man who wanted to get on with his life. We considered it more compassionate assistance - certainly not hush money. I know what's what everyone will want to say because that's the most salacious thing to say, but that's not at all what it was."
Reached Friday night, Haggard declined to comment and said all interviews would have to be arranged through a publicist for HBO, which is airing a documentary about him this month.
In an AP interview this month before an appearance in front of TV critics in California, Haggard described his sexuality as complex and something that can't be put into "stereotypical boxes."
So why are these new details becoming public now? The New Life Church, which Haggard, built up to 14,000 members before being fired for being gay, would have us believe that the man they paid hush money to just decided to come forward on his own, and that they've decided not to pursue him for breach of contract because they're being merciful. But that doesn't really wash, because it's the New Life Church that is releasing the information.
A more likely explanation is that they're upset because they've heard that Haggard complains about the way the church treated him in a soon-to-be-released HBO documentary, and they're trying to discredit Haggard. Apparently, Evangelicals are also upset because he argues that some people's sexuality is complicated, and often can't be accurately described in the stereotyped, either/or language often employed by leaders of the Evangelical movement. They might also be upset that Haggard, the former president of the 30 million member National Association of Evangelicals, now scoffs at the idea of a cure for homosexuality:
Three weeks after church elders told Haggard to leave and ordered him to undergo "spiritual restoration," they announced that after counseling he was "completely heterosexual."At least one Evangelical leader still believes that Haggard could be "cured" with the right therapy. James Dobson, who says that he considers Haggard a "close friend", claims that he could cure Haggard, but he doesn't have the time.
Haggard smiled wryly at the statement, saying he fits into neither the gay nor the evangelical community.
"My therapist says I am a heterosexual with complications. I don't say that because it is more complex. I love my relationship with my wife."
It's hard for me to think of this sort of behavior as anything but unchristian. Haggard cheated on his wife, then lied about it even after he was exposed. His former church seems to be attacking him out of spite, using one of his former lovers as a weapon. And a man who claims to be his good friend won't take the time to help him.
Whatever happened to Christian values like fidelity, honesty, mercy, compassion, and going the extra mile for your neighbor? It seems to me that Haggard's bisexuality is the least unchristian aspect of this story.
(cross posted at appletree)