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November 03, 2006

Pres. of Natl. Assoc. of Evangelicals Steps Aside

Rev. Ted Haggard, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, has left his post while allegations of homosexual sex and meth use are being investigated.

The Rev. Ted Haggard resigned as president of the 30 million-member association Thursday after being accused of paying the man for monthly trysts over the past three years.

Haggard, a married father of five, denied the allegations, but also stepped aside as head of his 14,000-member New Life Church pending an investigation.

"I am voluntarily stepping aside from leadership so that the overseer process can be allowed to proceed with integrity," he said in a statement. "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."

Carolyn Haggard, spokeswoman for the New Life Church and the pastor's niece, said a four-member church panel will investigate the allegations. The board has the authority to discipline Haggard, including removing him from ministry work.

The acting senior pastor at New Life, Ross Parsley, told KKTV-TV of Colorado Springs that Haggard admitted that some of the accusations were true.

"I just know that there has been some admission of indiscretion, not admission to all of the material that has been discussed but there is an admission of some guilt," Parsley told the station.

If true, this is another case of a fallible human being getting caught in sin. The question will be how this is dealt with; how the church and Rev. Haggard deal with the situation. Charges of hypocrisy may be reasonably levelled, but at the same time, all of us, at one time or another, do things we ourselves think to be wrong, whatever our code of ethics. One classic quote from C. S. Lewis in his book "The Problem of Pain" deals with this.
"The moralities (codes of right and wrong) among men may differ - though not, at bottom, so widely as is often claimed - but they all agree in prescribing a behaviour which their adherents fail to practice. All men alike stand condemned, not by alien codes of ethics, but by their own, and all men therefore are conscious of guilt."

We've all failed our own consciences. So levelling a charge of hypocrisy may be correct, but it's just as true of the accuser as of the accused. If the underlying charges are true, then Rev. Haggard should step down from his position of authority, at the very least for the time being and deal with this sin.

What this is not a case of is whether what he preached is the truth or not. It is also not a matter of politics. However, the accuser is trying to cover both those bases.

The accusations were made by Mike Jones, 49, of Denver, who said he decided to go public because of the political fight over the amendments.

"I just want people to step back and take a look and say, 'Look, we're all sinners, we all have faults, but if two people want to get married, just let them, and let them have a happy life,'" said Jones, who added that he isn't working for any political group.

Jones, who said he is gay, said he was also upset when he discovered Haggard and the New Life Church had publicly opposed same-sex marriage.

"It made me angry that here's someone preaching about gay marriage and going behind the scenes having gay sex," he said.

So these are politically motivated and timed charges, and are an attempt to discredit the truth of the matter based on a high-profile bad example. He acknowledges that "we're all sinners", but wants to help make folks comfortable in their sin rather than help them out of it. I'm not saying he shouldn't have brought this to light, but like the Mark Foley scandal, human faults are being used as political tools. Given this, I have some doubt as to the full veracity of the claims.

Additionally, I have to wonder if bringing this to light will really change the position of anyone who was going to vote to ban gay marriage. Maybe a couple fence-sitters, but most folks have a pretty strong opinion one way or the other, and with amendments in other states passing with wide margins, I think this political calculation has some errors.

Posted by Doug at November 3, 2006 12:01 PM

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I'm not sure whose blog this is. I found it on my statcounter just awhile ago.

I'm sorry the Evangelicals are having a problem at this time.

I have no factual evidence about how someone other than myself spends his or her personal time, unless I can see. Otherwise, the stream becomes a trickle.

There are so many issues I have with today's churches. An international insulted me some time ago about the hypocracy in me. Since I am Christain and American, this possible action if true affects others opinions of me. For that, I am upset. That's how it works, guilt by association, even when the gap is as large as the one between Evangelicals, other organized religions and me.


Posted by: ann at November 4, 2006 04:28 AM

God can certainly take away this sin and if repentance is genuine He will; but, Ted Haggard must step aside and never return to such a public ministry lest he cause the weak to stumble.

My fear and concern is that Ted Haggard will proclaim himself proudly gay. It won't be the first time.

Posted by: aloysius at November 4, 2006 04:46 PM

Yes we are all sinners and capable of doing anything, but the hypocrasy is in the coverups and the denials and the double standards that the church deals with their own leaders when they sin, and the constant judgement that the church portrays to the world while they commit they same sins. Bout time the church got real, stop playing silly buggers and got serious about Christ's message of grace for all people. No wonder so many people detest the church - and with some good reasons.

Posted by: Colleen at November 4, 2006 10:45 PM

I'm seeing a group that's doing the right thing and removing Haggard from his leadership position and holding its own to their own standards. I'd say that's a good thing, wouldn't you?

Posted by: Doug Payton at November 5, 2006 01:14 PM