Sunday, January 25, 2009

Haggard the homosexual hypocrite

By Michael J.W. Stickings

You remember Ted Haggard, don't you? He's the once hugely popular evangelist who, in 2006, was exposed as a closeted homosexual and drug user. He was kicked out of his Colorado church, which cited "sexually immoral conduct" -- because, of course, homosexual activity is by definition "immoral" in Haggard's theocratic community -- and then embarked on a mea culpa public relations campaign of self-regeneration, claiming that he had been at war against the "repulsive and dark" parts of his life "all [his] adult life" -- because, of course, homosexual activity, not to mention drug use with male prostitutes, is by definition "repulsive and dark" in Haggard's moralistic world -- and going through "intensive counseling," emerging convinced he was, finally, "completely heterosexual," which, of course, is what his church wanted to hear.

All along, Haggard claimed, seemingly unaware of the contradiction, that he was a sexual addict and that he had, incredibly, only been with one other man. He was obviously lying. Addiction or no, there was never just one man, one transgression, and now we know there were at least two, if not more:

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.

For me, this is a case of Schadenfreude, of taking pleasure in the misfortune of others. Haggard is a despicable man not because of what he did -- in my world, homosexuality is not "immoral," not "repulsive and dark" -- but because of who he is. He may well be welcomed back into the fold eventually, self-denial triumphant, but, as far as I'm concerned, he deserves to rot in his own misery and hypocrisy.

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