I had this strange dream last night about President George Bush rushing out of the front door of the White House at about two in the morning. He was wearing a wedding dress, complete with veil and train. With fists balled up in frustration, he screamed for all he was worth, “Is EVERYBODY gay?”
If anything will jolt you awake, that will, and after a moment’s thought, I realized it was a hilarious scene from the movie In and Out. In it, Joan Cusack, still in her wedding dress, hits a small town bar to get drunk after being jilted at the alter by a gay Kevin Klein. In frustration, she tries to pick up handsome and macho Tom Selleck only to be turned down because he’s gay, too, at which point, she runs out of the bar and screams her famous line.
President George Bush has got to be feeling like that poor woman about now, what with the gay Mark Foley page scandal and other GOPs being outed almost daily. Now, Friday’s news services are full of the reports that Ted Haggard, President of the 30 million member strong, 45,000 church National Association of Evangelicals since March of 2003, has been accused of buying drugs and having a three-year homosexual affair with a male escort from Denver!
To make matters worse, rather than fighting the allegations, he resigned Thursday from his post at the NAE, and stepped down as senior pastor of his church while they investigate the accusations. The church’s board is said to be looking into disciplining him at best, or removing him from his post as its spiritual guide at worst.
Christian Evangelist Ted Haggard is the head of a 14,000-member mega-house of worship known as the New Life Church. Rev. Haggard has even been interviewed by Barbara Walters for her television program. He speaks to, or counsels President Bush or one of his advisors, participating nearly every Monday in mass conference calls along with other Christian leaders. The White House maintains, though, that he’s only been there once or twice.
Time Magazine named Rev. Ted Haggard as one of the “Twenty-five Most Influential Evangelicals in America.” Taking advantage of his status as a prominent religious figure, Ted Haggard began nationally mobilizing followers against the gay marriage movement. Being in charge of one of the largest churches in the U.S., he wanted to further his cause after the state of Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage in 2004. He also joined forces with Focus on the Family to bring a state constitutional ban on homosexual marriage to the Colorado ballot this year.
Haggard maintains he has been faithful to his wife.
Mike Jones, an attractive and athletic-looking 49-year-old from Denver countered by agreeing to a radio interview. In it, he stated that over a period of three years, Haggard paid him about once a month to engage in homosexual intercourse. He also stated the Rev. Haggard used only the name “Art” and the last time they had sex was in August of this year. Openly gay Jones voluntarily took a polygraph during the radio interview. The results showed him telling the truth in some parts and “being deceptive” in others. The expert administering the test has requested a second test, saying it could be from stress of the radio interview and lack of sleep.
Haggard, the married father of five, seized on the results to deny even knowing Mike Jones, or ever having an affair with another man. Haggard began painting Jones as a liar and taking advantage of the political environment as well. Jones denied the assertion, saying he had no idea who “Art” actually was until he saw Haggard on TV recently railing against gay marriage.
An expert announced that he analyzed the accumulated messages Haggard left on Jones’ voicemail, and concluded there was a very good chance it was indeed Reverend Ted Haggard. Hearing this, the pastor changed his story and admitted to calling Jones to buy methamphetamines, but claimed he flushed them down the toilet after realizing what he’d done was morally wrong. When pressed on how he knew Jones’ phone number if he hadn’t had a liaison with him, Haggard admitted he’d hired Jones to give him a massage at a Denver hotel. Upon pressure of more damaging revelations, the Rev. Haggard admitted in an interview with KKTV in Colorado Springs that some of Jones’ accusations were accurate.
Jones maintains Haggard used the drugs to heighten his experiences while making homosexual love to him. Jones also produced an envelope Haggard had used to pay him for their clandestine meetings during their ongoing three-year affair. Mike Jones has stated there was never an emotional link between the two men and characterized it as a “business relationship” involving sex only.
As the story has developed, Haggard has gone from denying knowing Jones sexually or personally to admitting indiscretions but not guilt in the matter. He has also gone from denying the drug charges, to admitting calling Jones (whom he’d earlier denied knowing) to purchasing them from him.
Rev. Haggard is said to have gone into counseling for spiritual advice and guidance, following the examples of the likes of former President Bill Clinton, and the Reverends Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart.
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"I am so sorry for the circumstances that have caused shame and embarrassment for all of you," he said, adding that he had confused the situation by giving inconsistent remarks to reporters denying the scandal.
"The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. And I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life."