Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Surprise Wiggle in the Haggard Scandal: Evangelicals Say National Association of Evangelicals is Irrelevant.

Ted Haggard, who resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals in a gay sex and drugs scandal, poses a problem for other evangelical leaders. Some, like James Dobson, stand by him as a friend. I was curious to see what Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, the loosest cannons of the evangelical movement, would say. And of course Haggard, as NAE president and megachurch pastor, was part of the famous White House conference calls with evangelical leaders – what would they do?

The White House, not surprisingly, said Haggard's part of those weekly calls was not important. As David Kuo, former #2 in the White House Faith-Based Initiatives Office has recently revealed, the White House viewed those calls as a tool for pacifying, rather than listening to, evangelical leaders.

More surprising is the tack taken by Robertson and Falwell: they have attacked the National Association of Evangelicals itself as irrelevant. The NAE under Haggard has been more politically moderate that Falwell's Moral Majority or Robertson's Christian Coalition had been. Still, they had worked with the NAE for years as the umbrella under which many evangelical projects and ministries were shaded. That both men would distance themselves from Ted Haggard personally is not surprising; that they would dismiss the NAE at the same time is.

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