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Mega-church leader denies 'sexual business relationship' with male escort

Thursday, November 02, 2006

[UPDATE: The escort also says Haggard used meth in his presence. WWJD?

UPDATE 2: Time named Haggard one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America, and he has a hotline to the White House see below. Also, Lindsay finds a choice quote about Ted cruising gay bars for research.]

Oh my. Why on earth would something like this happen to Ted Haggard, the head of a huge church and president of the National Association of Evangelicals? A male sex worker says Ted was a regular customer for three years. (Denver Post):
Haggard, the founder and senior leader of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs and president of the multimillion- member National Association of Evangelicals, denied the accusations raised by the prostitute to KUSA- Channel 9. But the pastor said he is prepared for his own church to investigate the claims.

Male escort Mike Jones of Denver started talking to 9 Wants to Know two months ago, making claims that he has had a three-year sexual business relationship with Haggard, the station reported.

Jones went public about their alleged relationship Wednesday morning on talk radio.

"People may look at me and think what I've done is immoral, but I think I had to do the moral thing in my mind and that is expose someone who is preaching one thing and doing the opposite behind everybody's back," Jones told 9News.
Haggard, who is married with five kids, denied the allegation and said the accusation may be connected to his support of Colorado's marriage amendment:
"I've never had a gay relationship with anybody. ... I am steady with my wife. I'm faithful to my wife. I don't know if this is election-year politics or if this has to do with the marriage amendment or what it is," Haggard said.
Ted worked hard on a federal marriage amendment, and he was on the batphone with the White House on a regular basis.
Every Monday he participates in the West Wing conference call with evangelical leaders. The group continues to prod the President to campaign aggressively for a federal marriage amendment. "We wanted him to use the force of his office to actively lobby the Congress and Senate, which he did not adequately do," says Haggard. He is also working to broaden his group's agenda. A document issued last fall offered a theological justification for civic activism by U.S. Evangelicals, calling on them to protect the environment, promote global religious and political freedom and human rights, safeguard "wholesome family life," care for the poor and oppose racism.
Another choice update -- Pastor Ted, back in the day, apparently hung around gay bars to recruit homos to come to his church (Harper's):
He was always on the lookout for spies. At the time, Colorado Springs was a small city split between the Air Force and the New Age, and the latter, Pastor Ted believed, worked for the devil. Pastor Ted soon began upsetting the devil's plans. He staked out gay bars, inviting men to come to his church; his whole congregation pitched itself into invisible battles with demonic forces, sometimes in front of public buildings.
[UPDATE 3: the escort says he'll take a lie detector test and that he has voicemails and a letter from Haggard to back up his story. Ooops.]

Also: Blogenfreude points to a great Ted entry over at Little Green Fascists.