Hypocrite and the Congregation That Loves Him
Via the NYTs:
Long before the first tissue boxes were passed down the aisles for mopping tears, and before the first guitar chords were struck to begin the worship, many of the thousands of people who gathered on Sunday morning at the New Life Church here knew that it would be a service unlike any other in their lives...Naturally Haggard was vehemently against equal rights and marriage for gay couples. The only good thing besides outing another craven pseudo-Christian who didn't practice the intolerance he preached is that maybe just a sliver of the evangelical world will begin to question revealed truth and the people making money -- a great deal of money -- preaching it.
By then, the news was less than 24 hours old that the church’s founder and senior pastor, Ted Haggard, a prominent author and national evangelical Christian leader, had been dismissed by the church’s Board of Overseers for “sexually immoral conduct.”
A male prostitute in Denver said in a radio interview on Wednesday that Mr. Haggard had been a monthly customer and a buyer of methamphetamines. Mr. Haggard issued denials, but by Saturday the brief, explosive standoff was over. The board members had heard enough — mostly from Mr. Haggard himself, they said at Sunday’s service — to justify his removal.
What was left for Sunday was to begin sorting the tangled skein of spiritual and political implications, betrayal, anguish, anger and sadness that the episode left behind in the church and across the evangelical world. Speakers urged the church’s members to find a way forward without recrimination or bitterness; a letter from Mr. Haggard was read from the 8,000-seat auditorium’s center stage.
Mr. Haggard’s letter said that people should forgive the Denver man who broke the story, Michael Jones, in particular — though Mr. Jones was not referred to by name.
“He is revealing the deception and sensuality that was in my life,” Mr. Haggard wrote. “Those sins, and others, need to be dealt with harshly. So forgive him, and actually, thank God for him.”