Saturday, January 24, 2009

More Haggard News for Ted: Another Gay Sex Scandal



As if Ted Haggard's downfall from respected homophobic preacher to gay prostitution john and drug user couldn't get worse, it has: Haggard's relationship with escort Mike Jones wasn't his only closeted same-sex relationship. Just in time to drum up more publicity for the HBO documentary The Trials of Ted Haggard comes word Haggard also had a relationship with an unnamed young male volunteer at New Life Church, where Pastor Ted once preached.

The matter was supposed to be kept secret, at least according to the agreement signed between Haggard's just-disclosed other lover and New Life Church in Colorado Springs. Shortly after Jones' allegations surfaced, the volunteer — then in his 20s — came forward to church officials and informed them of his "consensual" relationship with Haggard, 52, according to New Life's senior pastor Brady Boyd, who succeeded Haggard after he resigned. There is an "overwhelming pool of evidence" that shows an "inappropriate, consensual sexual relationship" that "went on for a long period of time … it wasn't a one-time act," Boyd tells the AP.


To put the matter behind them, the church and the volunteer reached a settlement where the church would pay for counseling and college tuition. There was also a nondisclosure clause; neither side would speak publicly about what happened. Except now the volunteer is reportedly making plans to tell his story to a Colorado Springs television station, motivated, Boyd presumes, by Haggard's HBO documentary, where filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi humanizes the former pastor and paints him as a victim. The volunteer didn't want that viewpoint to be Haggard's legacy. (Haggard may be doing his best to remind America he sees himself as a victim; his already-taped Oprah episode airs this coming week.)

New Life insists the money it paid the volunteer wasn't hush money. "It wasn't at all a settlement to make him be quiet or not tell his story," says Boyd. "Our desire was to help him. Here was a young man who wanted to get on with his life. We considered it more compassionate assistance — certainly not hush money. I know what's what everyone will want to say because that's the most salacious thing to say, but that's not at all what it was." We tend to believe Boyd, since he's not planning to hold the volunteer legally responsible for violating the nondisclosure agreement; and Boyd himself is speaking openly to the press about the matter.

All of this follows New Life's disclosure in 2007 that their investigation found "new evidence that Haggard engaged in 'sordid conversation' and 'improper relationships' — but didn't go into detail," reports the AP. And that wasn't the only new scandal for the church: At the same time Haggard's scandal was blowing wide open, another church staffer told superiors about an inappropriate relationship and resigned.

Here we are, once again witnessing gay scandals inside a church that preaches against homosexuality — scandals that could have been prevented, perhaps, if Jesus' message of loving your brothers equally, and treating all of God's children with respect, were actually followed.


And call us cynics, but it seems awfully coincidental that the latest of Haggard's gay sex scandals is being made public just in time for the HBO documentary. Haggard is, after all, heavily involved in promoting the film. Brilliant marketing efforts at work, or mere coincidence?

Here is Boyd's letter to church members:

Dear New Life Family,

In the days ahead, there will be new press reports of allegations made by a man who knew Ted Haggard through his involvement with New Life Church. This man has decided to speak to the media about his alleged relationship with Mr. Haggard. Since these allegations were first brought to our attention, New Life Church leadership has reached out to him with compassion by providing him with pastoral care, professional counseling, and financial assistance. We did this with the hope that he would experience healing and move forward with purpose in his life.

At that time, he and church leaders agreed that publishing his allegations or our church’s assistance to him would not be in his best interest. This decision was made not as an attempt to conceal wrongdoings, but to protect him from those who would seek to exploit him. His actions now suggest that he has changed his mind.

A few weeks ago, when the news of the upcoming documentary about Mr. Haggard surfaced, this man informed me that he was considering telling the media the details of his relationship with Mr. Haggard. He was obviously upset about the reported content of the documentary and wished to tell his story.

After Mr. Haggard’s fall, we received reports of a number of incidents of inappropriate behavior. In each case, we have tried our very best to do the right thing, including disciplinary action when appropriate. Our concern has been and continues to be for every person affected. We renew our invitation today for anyone who believes he or she has been hurt to please come forward.

Our current elder team and all of our overseers have been aware of these allegations and have given us wise, prayerful counsel every step of the way. I regret that we have to revisit the unpleasant issues of the past, but I am convinced we are on the path of healing and great days are ahead for all of us. Thanks so much for your continued prayers and support.


Pastor Brady

And here is Mike Jones' open letter to Haggard, which he submitted to Oprah's show:

Dear Ted:

You have publicly apologized to me. I accept your apology. However, I cannot speak for the millions of proud gay men and women. I hope you understand the anger and sadness that overcame me once I discovered who you were. As a gay man who has fought for gay rights since my early teens, continually being treated as a 2nd class citizen, has never set well with me. I have second guessed myself so many times on my actions that I too have been brought to tears and loneliness. I believe you are a good person and could do so much more, my only sadness is that you have decided to make your comeback so publicly that is will open old wounds and new ones. My best to you and your family.


Mike Jones

And Jones issued this statement to Colorado's NBC-9:

With all the hate I took from so many people I had to endure when I exposed Ted Haggard, I hope all the parents out there say it is a good thing Mike Jones said something. Because if I had not, this would still be going on. And there are others

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