Posts Tagged “ted haggard”

Bishop Eddie Long from New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, GA declared the word of the Lord into our hearts and lives.Over the past few months I’ve blogged many times on the Roman Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal and that Church’s dismal failure to handle it in anything approaching a mature and morally-upright fashion. But no one should be fooled into thinking scandals of this sort are limited only to Catholicism. Evangelical Protestants such as Ted Haggard and George Alan Rekers have been caught up in sex scandals over the last few years (albeit with adults). And before them, of course, there were Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker.

More recently, yet another evangelical has found himself facing a sex scandal of his own, and this time the accusations involve somewhat younger victims. The CBS News Crimesider reports on the expanding case of Atlanta megachurch pastor Bishop Eddie Long (WebCite cached article):

New pictures [cached] have surfaced of Bishop Eddie Long, prominent pastor of a 25,000-member megachurch outside Atlanta, as a third man has come forward accusing the anti-gay advocate of coercing him into sex.

CBS News’ Erica Hill reports the pastor allegedly sent his accusers numerous photos [cached] of himself including at least several of him wearing spandex and workout clothes.

It’s not known precisely how the photos surfaced.

This scandal has been brewing for a week or so, and has reached the point where Long can no longer ignore it, even if — perhaps — he’d first thought he could deflect it:

Long canceled an interview with the Tom Joyner Morning Show Thursday, opting instead to make his first public response to the sex allegations during a service at his Atlanta-area church on Sunday, according to his lawyer, who appeared on the nationally syndicated radio show in Long’s absence.

This article goes into some of the allegations, and also explains Long’s pedigree as a prominent evangelical:

In lawsuits filed this week, three men who were members of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church claimed Long coerced them into sexual relations with gifts including cars, cash and travel when they were 17 or 18 years old. The sprawling church in Lithonia, Ga., about 18 miles outside of Atlanta, counts politicians, celebrities and the county sheriff among its members and hosted four U.S. presidents during the 2006 funeral of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s widow, Coretta Scott King.

One of the claims in the lawsuits is that Long had sexual contact with the young men, who were enrolled in New Birth’s ministry for teen boys, during trips he took them on in the U.S. and abroad. Gillen said the travel was part of a mentoring program that other young men also participated in.

The problem for Long is not merely that he’s a pastor who knows better than to engage in such behavior, but that he’s an outright hypocrite, since he’s been something of an anti-gay crusader:

Long has called for a national ban on same-sex marriage and his church counsels gay members to become straight. In 2004, he led a march with Bernice King to her father’s Atlanta grave to support a national constitutional amendment to protect marriage “between one man and one woman.”

Bishop Long appears to have forgotten that his own Jesus explicitly, clearly, and unambiguously ordered his followers never, ever to be hypocritical.

It remains to be seen what he will say when he addresses his congregation on Sunday. Some news reports suggest he may be resigning pending the outcome of these cases, however, another CBS News Crimesider report shows some defiance on his part (cached):

Bishop Eddie Long spoke out for the first time Friday about allegations that he had sexual relationships with at least three teenage boys in his Atlanta-area church. …

Long said he was in the middle of a battle.

“We will arise through this situation, and go forward, and we are moving forward,” Long said.

That sounds like a guy who’s hired a batallion of attorneys to fight these lawsuits, not someone who’s preparing to give in and go away silently.

It should be no surprise to anyone that, in looking for reactions to this scandal, the mass media ran immediately, microphones extended, to the aforementioned shamed Ted Haggard, who is (likewise no surprise!) supporting his fellow scandal-plagued evangelical pastor, as AOL News reports (cached):

Disgraced pastor Ted Haggard cautions that no one should rush to judge Atlanta megachurch Bishop Eddie Long, who is accused of coercing three young men into sex.

“Nobody’s guilty until the court says he’s guilty,” Haggard, the former head of a 14,000-member congregation in Colorado, told AOL News in a phone interview Wednesday.

I don’t know what’s more pathetic … that the mass media thought that the shamed pastor had anything to say worth hearing, or that Haggard had the audacity to say that no one is permitted to think ill of Long until a court renders a verdict?

Photo credit: TBN Newsletter.

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CNN Insipid Beyond Belief blog!CNN has a relatively new religion blog. Maybe you’ve heard of it … but more likely, you haven’t. If not, don’t worry — you aren’t missing much. The kind of pablum this blog conveys is hardly worth your notice, and I mean that regardless of what your own religious viewpoint (if any) is. It’s just not that great.

An example of how deficient this blog is, is in its coverage of the once-disgraced but now proud-to-have-had-a-scandalous-past-because-it-makes-me-great evangelical preacher, Ted Haggard (a used-car-salesman-type creepy character I most recently blogged about here). In the space of just four days, this month, the CNN Belief blog has posted two stories on Ted Haggard: Haggard back in the pulpit (cached) and Status report: Ted Haggard’s new church (cached). This is after having posted some blathering tripe about him a month ago (Ted Haggard, Resurrected; cached) courtesy of Stephen Prothero, a religion professor.

What’s really amazing, if you pay close attention to these “reports” about the “resurrected Ted’s” incredible success, is that it’s all self-reported. That’s right. We only have Pastor Ted’s word on how great he’s doing and how great he is. There is no “investigation” here, none of the cutting-edge, incisive, insightful and analytical journalism one (presumably) expects of CNN.

Clearly CNN’s new “Belief Blog” is little more than a P.R. engine for Pastor Ted “I’m-not-gay-even-if-I-hired-gay-prostitutes-to-service-me” Haggard. Then again, CNN hooked up with Stephen Prothero, who’s on the record as demanding mandatory Bible classes in public schools.

Yeah. These are the kinds of people CNN is now carrying water for. An unrepentant cretin, and a militant Christian.

I guess we can chalk this one up as yet another journalism fail. Sigh.

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Ted Haggard, with his wife Gayle at his side, talks about the church that he is starting up during a news conference at their home in Colorado Springs, June 2.That’s the only way I can describe this. “Shamelessness personified.” Really. There aren’t words enough in the world to relate the colossal amount of hubris and chutzpah behind what Ted Haggard — the apparently no-longer-disgraced former pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs — has done. The AP (via USA Today) tells the sorry story of an unrepentant sinner (WebCite cached article):

Former megachurch pastor Ted Haggard said Wednesday that he will launch a new church from his Colorado Springs home, 3 1/2 years after he resigned from his ministry amid an embarrassing and devastating sex scandal.

Perhaps the prize moment of this article lies in this quote from Pastor Ted, who compares himself to none other than Jesus:

“This is my resurrection day,” he declared.

Yes, that’s right folks. Pastor Ted has declared himself “raised from the dead,” just like the founder of his own religion. What a marvelous touch. (Kind of reminds me of S.C. governor Mark Sanford, who compared himself with King David as a way of justifying his extramarital affair.)

Then there’s this little gem:

Without offering any specifics on the allegations against him, Haggard said his counselors told him he is heterosexual but that his behavior was influenced by a childhood incident when he molested by an adult male.

Haggard said he takes responsibility for his actions as an adult and does not mean to use the molestation as an excuse.

Gee, Pastor Ted … if you don’t mean to use this incident as an excuse, then … why the hell are you using it as an excuse!? Huh? Did you think no one would notice you doing precisely what you said you wouldn’t do!?

And Pastor Ted proceeded to nail the coffin lid down on what little remained of his own morality:

“I’m certainly not going to say no to people (who need help) because of my personal shame.”

I’m not sure how this is possible with Pastor Ted, since — by virtue of what he’s done — it’s absolutely clear that he has no shame at all!

An open question for any and all Christians out there: Have you finally had enough, yet, with these creepy characters? When are you going to kick them out of your midst? If you don’t, and if you refuse to stop them from speaking for you, then I can only assume they all speak for you.

Photo credit: Ed Andrieski / AP.

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I blogged early this year about disgraced evangelical pastor Ted Haggard’s then-new effort to rehabilitate his reputation, step behind a lectern again, and thump his Bible once more. He has continued this effort, and recently led a prayer group in his home in Colorado Springs. Along with that (of course) he made himself available for media interviews. In the course of one such interview, Haggard told a whopping, demonstrable lie. KMGH-7 TV in Denver has the story:

“I was always well aware of my own personal struggles, but my desire was to be more Godly,” said Haggard. “I was never a religious right, hateful, anti-gay guy — secretly running off, except right at the end. I’d say right at the end, before the crisis. That did develop a little bit stronger.”

There are many ways to show this to be a lie … i.e. that he was, in fact, always “right” and “anti-gay.” But one example is the following quotation by him, during an interview in late 2005 with Christianity Today:

“The biblical argument could be made, but not in this particular case. In Washington, D.C., our argument has to be the fact that the greatest benefit to society and to our culture and to the children of our nation would be to instill in our Constitution that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. It would be devastating for the children of our nation and for the future of Western civilization for us to say that homosexual unions or lesbian unions or any alteration of that has the moral equivalence of a heterosexual, monogamous marriage.

This is assuredly both “right” and “anti-gay.” And note, he was saying it not merely as a “Biblical” principle, but because that’s what he genuinely believed to be in the best interest of children and civilization.

Welcome, pastor Teddy, to my lying liars for Jesus club.

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You may remember the disgraced Ted Haggard, who’d been the famous pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs until November 2006, when it was revealed that he’d been a customer of a male prostitute and a drug user. Just when we thought we wouldn’t hear from him again — well, he wasn’t having any part of that! He’s now the star of an upcoming HBO documentary/puff-piece (as the Washington Post reports):

Two years ago Ted Haggard vanished into the gap that separates righteous, evangelical America from righteous, liberal America. By chance this cultural divide was defined to a large extent by attitudes about gay sex even before a male prostitute announced he had been sleeping with the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and had sold him some methamphetamine.

Now Haggard, 52, is back in the public eye, his lanky frame leaning forward on an easy chair in a penthouse suite of the Universal City Hilton as he flogs “The Trials of Ted Haggard,” a documentary by Alexandra Pelosi that debuts on HBO Thursday. The striking woman on the couch to his right is his wife, Gayle, still with the pastor despite everything — the scandal, their exile to the desert, and the continuing mystery of her husband’s sexuality — because she found in the teachings of Jesus the grace to forgive, vs. the “downward spiral” of judgment and hate.

It’s kind of odd, don’t you think, that a fundamentalist Christian wife can’t manage to “judge” or “hate” her wayward husband … after all, fundies spend a great deal of their time judging everyone else, from gays to atheists to the ACLU and more. Seems to me Mrs Haggard should spread her newfound “gospel-of-not-judging” to the rest of her fundamentalist brothers and sisters.

Oh wait. Jesus already did that, himself. Sorry. Sometimes I forget there are things that Jesus taught, but that fundamentalists have decided not to follow.

At any rate, this documentary comes at a time when it’s been revealed that Haggard’s dalliances had been much worse than either he or New Life Church admitted to, back in November 2006 (as reported by the AP, via this Baltimore Sun article):

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.

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 claimed to have had a three-year cash-for-sex relationship with Haggard.

Boyd said an “overwhelming pool of evidence” pointed to an “inappropriate, consensual sexual relationship” that “went on for a long period of time … it wasn’t a one-time act.” Boyd said the man was in his early 20s at the time. He said he was certain the man was of legal age when it began.

So it wasn’t just one gay prostitute who had “outed” the once-admired Pastor Ted — at least one other person had confirmed his wrongdoing.

One would expect that the AP had tried to get comment from Haggard on this, and they did, but with the following result:

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. …

A spokeswoman for the documentary, “The Trials of Ted Haggard,” declined to comment Friday.

So much for that. Can’t let a little thing like more wrongdoing exposed, get in the way of making a fortune on a documentary!

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