a publicity junket promoting the HBO documentary, The Trials
of Ted Haggard, which landed him on Oprah and Larry
King Live, fallen evangelical star Haggard has risen from public
obscurity to tell us he’s not gay. He’s “heterosexual with issues.”
And the issues Haggard is referring to are his “sexual thoughts
about men, but they’re not compulsive any more.” But Haggard same-sex
thoughts haven’t been nearly as compulsive and destructive as his
trysts with gay men.
denying allegations about dalliances with gay men, Haggard was shamed
into confessing “his sexual immorality” when his gay male prostitute,
Mike Jones, went public about their affair. Haggard, we find out,
was soliciting homosexual sex and methamphetamine from Jones off
and on for three years.
founder of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs,
Colorado, Haggard was once a national bigwig.
Time magazine in 2005 listed Haggard as one of the top 25
most influential evangelicals in America. And he wielded influence on Capitol Hill
as part of a cadre of men who participated in conservative Christian
leadership conference calls with the White House during the Bush
banished from the GOP inner sanctum and the Christian Right’s hallowed
sanctuary, Haggard has lost his political platform and bully pulpit.
Haggard traces his sexual struggles to allegedly being molested
as a child. But Haggard’s road to perdition is not about his sexual
orientation; rather it is about the lies he tells about it.
do believe I don’t fit into the normal boxes,” Haggard said. “I
do think there are complexities associated with some people’s sexuality,
but it just wasn’t as simple as I wanted it to be, because I was
so deeply in love with my life.” However, truth be told, Haggard
is deeply in love with heterosexual privilege and homosexual sex.
feeding Haggard internalized homophobia and the Christian Right’s
politically and religiously Biased Agenda-Driven (aptly abbreviated
“B.A.D.”) science like “reparative therapies,” which attempts to
prove that LGBTQ people as genetically flawed, an ex-gay reparative
therapist depicted Haggard’s sexual proclivity as “ heterosexual
with homosexual attachments.” But the real troubling attachment
to Haggard’s downfall is how the revelation of his furtive gay sex
life exposes the broader hypocrisy of his church.
before Haggard’s sex scandal was publicly disclosed, church officials
and friends knew of his homosexual trysts. Lou Sheldon, a
friend and chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition told The
Jewish Week that “he and a lot of other people had been aware
of Pastor Haggard’s same-sex behavior for a while... but we weren’t
sure just how to deal with it.... Ted and I had a discussion. He
said homosexuality is genetic. I said, ‘yes it is’.”
evangelical Christians find the struggle Christian conservative
churches are having with LGBTQ people is a culture war they don’t
want to engage in because the emphasis is political rather than
focused on “the ethic of Jesus.” And fighting against same-sex marriage
is not on the top of their list of social concerns for the country.
asked about same-sex marriage, Diana Smith, 27, an evangelical Christian
from upstate New York said, “opposing [same-sex marriage] would not be at the top
of Jesus’ priority list. Jesus never mentioned homosexuals at all.”
a matter of fact, the top three social issues for this coming of
age of evangelical Christians are the environment, children orphaned
by AIDS, poverty and health care, all social issues they view as
matters of faith and family values.
evangelical Christians, on the other hand, use homosexuality and
sex scandals like Haggard’s as a way to politicize their theological
presence and control within the Republican Party. But the church
knows, as many of its fallen disciples like Haggard, that it can
neither get rid of or completely closet its LGBTQ people. The church,
however, can be complicit in the deception.
in point: While on his publicity junket, new allegations of a homosexual
relationship surfaced concerning Haggard. This time Haggard’s church
got involved by paying the 20-year-old male church volunteer hush-money
to keep silent. In a settlement reached by the man’s lawyer to not
go public, the church is providing the young man money to pay his
college tuition, moving expenses and counseling.
Brady Boyd, the new senior pastor at New Life, since Haggard’s excommunication,
doesn’t see the exchange as bribery. “This was compassionate assistance.
It was to help him move forward, not a settlement to keep him quiet,”
Boyd told CNN.
feel that Haggard should be held accountable for his actions. And
they are right. But so, too, should the church.
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, the Rev. Irene Monroe, is
a religion columnist, theologian, and public speaker. A native of
Brooklyn, Rev. Monroe is a graduate from Wellesley College and Union
Theological Seminary at Columbia University, and served as a pastor
at an African-American church before coming to Harvard Divinity
School for her doctorate as a Ford Fellow. Reverend Monroe is the
author of Let Your Light Shine Like a Rainbow Always: Meditations
on Bible Prayers for Not-So-Everyday Moments
. As an African American feminist theologian, she speaks for
a sector of society that is frequently invisible. Her website is
to contact the Rev. Monroe.