Friday, November 03, 2006

Oh Lord, No: The Leading Evangelical Quits in Gay Sex Scandal

Ted Haggard, head of the National Association of Evangelicals and pastor of a 14, 000 member church in Colorado Springs, has quit both. A gay prostitute, Mike Jones, says he has been having sex regularly with Haggard for three years. And, just to make it perfect, Jones says Haggard took meth to make the sex better.

Haggard has been one of the leading opponents of gay marriage. Jones says when he saw Haggard on t.v., he realized that the "Art" who was his regular John and Ted Haggard were the same guy.

Haggard denies all of it, and I will presume him innocent until proven guilty. It is a little suspicious that he quit both of his jobs, but that may be standard procedure in evangelical sex scandals. There will be an investigation, which I hope will be quick. And I hope he is cleared, if only so that I can maintain my faith that some leaders tell the truth.

Jon Stewart says the rule is simple: everyone who makes a big deal about opposing homosexuality is a homosexual. In the wake of Foleygate, this seems too believable.

Heavy sigh.


halifax said...

Although it is always a good thing to see blowhards implode, I would certainly be reluctant to place much faith in the logic of television comedians, who are (perhaps?) the secular equivalent of television evangelists. According to Mr. Stewart’s profound logic, we should expect that those who are most vigorous in their condemnation of pro-lifers are secretly working for Operation Rescue; that the editors of The Weekly Standard are secretly funneling money to Al Qaeda; and, in fact, that Jon Stewart, who constantly complains about the dumbing down of American political discourse, is actually a leading cause of it (whoops, that one actually works).

Anonymous said...

Its silly to debate Jon Stewart's remarks. He's a comedian. His comment wasn't meant to be logical. However, actual real live scientific research has shown that "Individuals who score in the homophobic range on the "Homophobia Scale" demonstrate signficant sexual arousal to male homosexual erotic stimuli." So, as most gay people can tell you, the self-hating closet case isn't just a stereotype. Just ask Senator Craig (R-Idaho -- who continues to deny the allegations against him) and Ken Melman (RNC Chair -- also continues to deny that he's gay.)

Just a couple corrections: 1) Remember that Foley wasn't outted as gay, he was outted as a pedophile. His sexual orientation was well known in DC and in his district, 2) Haggard is no longer denying "all of it."

I think most people are going to jump on the hypocrisy angle of this story (ie. anti-gay pastor has sex with men) but miss the real hypocrisy. "Love the sinner, hate the sin." Let's watch and see just how much love Haggard receives from fellow evangelicals and the fundamentalist community now.

I predict gay evangelicals will once again learn a powerful lesson: come out at your own risk. Instead, hide and lie. And once we find out, we're still going to shun you.

I wonder when the far right is going to learn that they've made the culture so toxic that even Pastors would rather hire prostitutes than admit that they're gay.

Anonymous said...

Please, Alan, let's not make that HUGE assumption: "It's the toxic culture's fault." There are plenty of reasons why a gay man who struggles with his identity ends up hiring a prostitute (and I'm trying not to assume that he's done this based on the testimony of one witness).

Yes, there is much left wanting in portions of the church, when it comes to grace toward homosexuals and heterosexuals who support them. But you are right in your expectation that Haggard should not be banished. That will be a test of the integrity of his community of faith.

It also will be the test of you and me, in our treatment of his community of faith.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm not saying it's the culture's fault. I believe wholeheartedly in personal responsibility. He made his bed, now he has to lie in it. (um...sorry.)

I suppose there may be plenty of reasons why any ordinary gay man who is struggling with his identity might hire a prostitute. However the only one I can think of is discretion. Maybe he's afraid of being rejected by his family, like so many gay people whose parents listen to the rhetoric of folks like Dobson and Falwell. Or maybe he's afraid of losing his job, like so many of us, since there are no protections for LGBT people in the workplace. But all those reasons still end up pointing to a toxic culture. The far right calls it a "Culture War" not a "Culture Knitting Circle" so I don't think I'd dismiss the influence of culture so easily.

halifax said...

Is homophobia (sic) in the same classificatory scheme as hydrophobia or is it rather a bit closer to neologistic notions like homocide-a-phobia or incest-a-phobia? Trying to define the folks that disagree with one's position as mentally unstable is a nice rhetorical trick. Perhaps, these folks need to be ‘fixed’.

In terms of self-loathing homosexuals, it is, of course, quite possible for someone to denounce some act as immoral while being tempted to engage in it. There are plenty of people who have condemned adultery, drunkenness, thievery, etc. while engaging in them. The hypocrisy of succumbing to temptation, however, suggests nothing about the validity of the original condemnation.

The discussion about these issues in this country is clouded by the fact that, on the one hand, there is a group of folks who have determined that anyone who believes that homosexual acts are immoral is a benighted bigot fit for nothing else than a trip to a nice re-education camp, and, on the other hand, a group unwilling to distinguish between actions which are morally repugnant and necessarily call for legislative control and those immoral actions which ought to be tolerated because their regulation would be so invasive as to undermine other more important commitments. In the middle, of course, are the great majority of Americans who generally are tolerant toward these actions, but refuse to render them moral approbation, thus, leaving both extremes unhappy.

Gruntled said...
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Anonymous said...

Why does any ordinary straight man hire a prostitute?

Gruntled said...

I think this story will keep getting worse. I am dreading what sound bite Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson is about to provide.

When Fr. Bruce Ritter, the head of Covenant House for runaway kids was exposed for fooling around with some of them, he just disappeared into the Catholic penance and rehabilitation apparatus. Evangelical Protestantism doesn't really have such a place.

Anonymous said...

"Trying to define the folks that disagree with one's position as mentally unstable is a nice rhetorical trick. Perhaps, these folks need to be ‘fixed’."

You'd have to ask the far right .... they're the ones with the camps dedicated to "re-educating" homosexuals.

Attempting to use a clinical definition of "homophobia" rather than the more commonly accepted use as "dislike of gay people" is also a nice rhetorical trick, I might add. :)

Anonymous said...

It is an interesting question, though, whether Haggard would have committed adultery if he had been in a gay marriage.

Gruntled said...

If Haggard could not be restrained from adultery by marriage, five kids, writing a book with his wife about how deep and spiritual their union was, his public opposition to all infidelity, and the disastrous scandal and opprobrium that did befall him, I don't think gay marriage would have stopped him.

I also don't think his having sex with a man, if he really did, settles the question of his sexual orientation or not.

Anonymous said...

Haggard is a self-loathing gay man who desperately tried to pretend to be straight to the extent of marrying a woman and having five children. If he had married someone he was actually attracted to (a man) then perhaps he would have been truly happy. Or not -- some people just like risk and excitement. But until orientation is unremarkable, then there will always be men who hurt other people by pretending to be something they are not.