Politically Powerful National Evangelical Association Shaken by Gay Sex Scandal
Ted Haggard: National Association of Evangelicals
Haggard Influencing Young People
“I Think I Know What You did Last Night…Send Me $1,000 and I Won’t Tell Your Wife”
Evangelical Group Has Political Power with The White House and Bush Administration
The National Association of Evangelicals, with strong and long-standing influential ties to The White House, has been caught up in a gay sex scandal that potentially exposes the hypocrisy present in its political influence with the Bush administration. Association President Ted Haggard, accused in the sex and drugs scandal, is often credited with having rallied conservative Christians behind U. S. President George Bush in his 2004 re-election. Haggard allegedly talks with Bush or his advisers every week, according to reports in Harper’s Magazine.
The White House very quickly made moves to make statements trying to play down Haggard’s political influence in Washington, hoping to make it so that the scandal would have no impact on the midterm elections. White House spokesman Tony Fratto denied long-standing and previously unchallenged reports that Haggard was a regular participant in the weekly conference calls between White House officials and evangelical leaders, which began when President Bush took office in 2001 and have continued since. Suddenly attempting to distance the White House from Haggard, Fratto claimed that, “He had been on a couple of calls, but was not a weekly participant in those calls. I believe he’s been to the White House one or two times. . . . But there have been a lot of people who come to the White House.”
Evangelist Ted Haggard, President of the 30 million-member National Association of Evangelicals, admitted Friday that he bought methamphetamines and “received massages” [but no “releases”] from a gay sex escort who claims that he was paid by Haggard to engage in drug-inflamed sexual activities with the outspoken gay marriage opponent. Haggard resigned Thursday as President of the National Association of Evangelicals and stepped down as the leader of his Colorado megachurch while the two groups investigate the allegations that have been made about him.
Talking to reporters Friday, Haggard denied the sex allegations, but said that he did buy meth from the man because he “was curious.” “I bought it for myself but never used it,” he said. “I was tempted, but I never used it.” Haggard said he never had sex with Mike Jones, a 49-year-old male gay sexual escort who sparked the scandal when he told a radio station that he had been involved in a three-year sexual relationship with the minister. He said he did get a massage from Jones after being “referred” to him by a Denver hotel. However, when one reporter attempted to obtain further information about the validity of such a “referral,” Haggard dodged the question and responded by saying that he “couldn’t remember” the name of the hotel since he stays at so many of them.
Haggard resigned as president of the 30 million-member Christian evangelical association Thursday and stepped down as the leader of his New Life Church pending investigations into Jones’ allegations. The executive committee of the National Association of Evangelicals, which claims 30 million members, planned to have a conference call on Friday and said it would release a statement afterward.
The acting pastor of Ted Haggard’s 14,000 member New Life Church told the congregation in an e-mail that the church’s four-member board of overseers had met with Haggard on Thursday. “It is important for you to know that he confessed to the overseers that some of the accusations against him are true. He has willingly and humbly submitted to the authority of the board of overseers, and will remain on administrative leave during the course of the investigation,” the message stated.
The scandal hit just as voters in Colorado and seven other states are getting ready to decide Tuesday on amendments banning gay marriage. Besides the proposed ban on the Colorado ballot, a separate measure would establish the legality of domestic partnerships providing same-sex couples with many of the rights of married couples.
Mike Jones, the sexual escort who reported the allegations, said he decided to go public because he was 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. “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 claimed that Haggard, 50, paid him to have sex nearly every month over three years. He said he advertised himself as an escort on the Internet and was contacted by a man who called himself Art, who took methamphetamine before their sexual encounters in order to heighten the experience.
He said that he has voice mail messages from Haggard, as well as an envelope that he said was used by Haggard to mail him cash. While Jones declined to make the voice mails immediately available to syndicated wire services, late Thursday a television station in Denver released what it said were excerpts from two of the voice mails that referred to methamphetamine. “Hi Mike, this is Art,” one call began, according to the station. “Hey, I was just calling to see if we could get any more. Either $100 or $200 supply.” A second message, left a few hours later, began: “Hi Mike, this is Art, I am here in Denver and sorry that I missed you. But as I said, if you want to go ahead and get the stuff, then that would be great. And I’ll get it sometime next week or the week after or whenever.”
Haggard was appointed president of the evangelicals association in March 2003. He has participated in conservative Christian leaders’ conference calls with White House staffers and lobbied members of Congress last year on U.S. Supreme Court appointees after Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement. After Massachusetts legalized gay marriage in 2004, Haggard and others began organizing state-by-state opposition. Last year, Haggard and officials from the nearby Christian ministry “Focus on the Family” announced plans to push Colorado’s gay marriage ban for the 2006 ballot.
An Embarrassingly Unconvincing Television Interview Given by Ted Haggard
Family Values: Ted Haggard, His Male Escort and Meth
Please Share This: