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Posts for October, 2012

Ted Haggard Endorses Civil Marriage Equality

Timothy Kincaid

October 21st, 2012

The world is a funny place. Now Ted Haggard – yes that Ted Haggard, is endorsing civil marriage equality. (OnTop)

While Haggard supported the 2006 referendum which amended Colorado’s Constitution to say that only heterosexual couples may marry in the state, he now argues otherwise.

In the online debate against Rabbi Benjamin Hecht, director of Orthodox Jewish think tank Nishma, Haggard said he sees a distinction between biblical law and civil law.

“We’ve reached a point where human dignity and mutual respect is so important,” Haggard said. “If someone is dealing with same-sex attraction or homosexuality, and they want someone to be their life partner of the same gender, though we would oppose that in our churches, it should be allowed by the state.”

It’s easy to dismiss Haggard as a joke. But let’s remember that he was the leader of the National Association of Evangelicals and is still a pastor, of sorts, and in connection with that community. His statement is a bit of a milestone.

The Other Contest Tuesday Night

Jim Burroway

January 5th, 2012

The Iowa caucuses grabbed all the attention, but there was another matchup taking place on Tuesday night that flew in under the radar: Celebrity Wife Swap, in which Ted and Gayle Haggard swapped wives with Gary Busey and his fiancee Steffanie Sampson. I didn’t see it, but it looks like it went pretty well for everyone.

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Ted Haggard To Swap Wives

Jim Burroway

September 22nd, 2011

Now there’s a headline I never thought I’d write:

Controversial minister Ted Haggard will exchange wives with unpredictable actor Gary Busey in the ABC reality series Celebrity Wife Swap, a publicist for the network confirmed.

The Long and Winding Road

Jim Burroway

January 26th, 2011

Ted Haggard finally figures it out:

“I think that probably, if I were 21 in this society, I would identify myself as a bisexual.”

Haggard’s church is growing

Timothy Kincaid

July 13th, 2010

At one time Ted Haggard ran the largest church in Colorado. Then came revelations about sex sessions with a male escort and methamphetamine usage and it all went away. New Hope, the church he created, promptly booted Haggard out the door.

Well that was in 2006 and his non-compete agreement with New Life is expired. So Ted Haggard is back in Colorado Springs and has started over with St. James Church. He’s now adopted a more inclusive and friendly approach, one that does not engage in anti-gay rhetoric or activism.

And it seems to be working. (Denver Post)

Pastor Ted Haggard is moving his burgeoning new St. James Church out of his Old Ranch Road barn in Colorado Springs to the city’s Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts beginning July 25.

St. James, marking its sixth week of existence as a church last Sunday, drew 230 congregants to Haggard’s barn. Haggard said he expects the church, at first, will require one of the smaller rooms at Pikes Peak for weekly 10 a.m. services.

The center’s main auditorium holds more than 2,000, and Haggard hopes to be able to fill it soon. The Board of New Life must be pooping cinder-blocks.

Ted Haggard clarifies his behavior

Timothy Kincaid

February 3rd, 2010

ted-haggardWriting to blogsite Phoenix Preacher, disgraced evangelical preacher Ted Haggard claims:

I am guilty of sin, but probably not the sins you think. Gayle’s book talks about the four lie detector tests I took all demonstrating that I had not had an affair with Mike Jones, had not had sexual contact with anyone in the church other than my wife or had ever groomed anyone in the church for sexual contact. I have never had a homosexual “affair” or “relationship” in my life. Mike Jones’ only lie detector test in November 2006 indicated deception, and he has since refused to take any more. All four of my lie detector tests demonstrated truthfulness.

In comments, he clarified:

I am guilty of sexual immorality and guilty of taking the drugs. I lied in two interviews: the ones during the crisis. But there have been no lies prior to (except my silence while hoping to heal this issue on my own) or after the letters were read to the church the first Sunday of November, 2006. Everything else has been precise, accurate, with an attempt to be biblical and not unnecessairly cause additional embarrassment to my wife and kids.

and

I went to Mike for a massage that ended up being sensual. He told me about drugs and I returned on several occasions to buy them and used them, then, by myself. Never with anyone else. That is what happened with Mike. There were, however, other one time occurances which is why I am guilty of sexual immorality but not of a three year drug induced affair with Mike Jones. Nor was there ever a desire, a plan, or any attempt for sexual contact with anyone in the church except my wife. All of these facts were validated via multiple lie detector tests

He was asked about homosexuality:

I don’t know if this is something you want to share on here…so I apologize in advance if this is off limits…but I’m asking because I have a brother…who I love very much and pray for regularly…who is homosexual. It’s such a tough issue. He grew up a PK and I don’t believe there is a more polarizing sin within “the church”…

Were you born attracted to the same sex?

Is the homosexual allegation part of the story that is correct or incorrect?

If you were born attracted to the same sex…how are you overcoming that desire?

And responded:

As for the questions about homosexuality — I just don’t know. My sin issues were in direct response to trauma in the 2nd grade, but I always had heterosexual orientation and have had a normal heterosexual relationship with my wife. The homosexual portions were my responsibility but were confusing because they were contrary to everything else in my life. Since going through EMDR (Trauma Resolution Therapy) in November of 2006, I have not had any unwanted intrusive thoughts or actions. It doesn’t mean I’m perfect, it’s just that I’ve been able to respond well to the byproduct of the trauma as a child.

And found time to note that while the church has not been universally supportive of him and his wife, others were kinder.

Today Rosie was kind to, helpful to, and supportive of my wife’s decision to love and forgive me. Think of that. While the religious crowd is here insisting on the details of my sin of years ago, Rosie is on nation wide radio encourageing Gayle in her decision to love and forgive me in obedience to Christ. We all have a lot to learn.

Ted Haggard is a complicated guy. And this experience has, I suspect, molded him into someone quite different than he was. I see a more nuanced view of the world and a less assertively confidant approach.

I very much doubt that Haggard’s attractions were caused by newly recollected childhood trauma or that EMDR will prove to have much long term effect. His discussion of “homosexual portions” being in conflict suggests that he continues to view homosexuality as a “lifestyle” or as having attributes sharply different from his desires to have a family and ministry. Nor does he seem to comprehend the idea of bisexuality as an orientation.

But I also do not doubt that he has attractions to his wife which can be adequately fulfilling for a newly humbled Ted Haggard. The experiences he has gone through in the past few years are probably strong incentive to value his relationship. However, I also suspect that any assumption that his same-sex attractions are healed will only open him up to further betrayal of his vows.

And while I am disappointed that he appears to have latched onto this childhood experience explanation, I do appreciate that he has not sought to extrapolate his story (as he believes it to be) onto all other same-sex attracted persons.

If the history of disgraced preachers is anything to go by, I suspect that Ted Haggard will at some point return to ministry in a diminished capacity, perhaps pastoring a smaller church and having a more localized television presence. And his experiences with the judgmentalism and self-righteousness of many in the Christian world will likely direct him more to focus on redemption and acceptance than on sin, punishment, condemnation, and rejection.

Ted Haggard is heeeeeealed

Timothy Kincaid

January 27th, 2010

Gayle Haggard told Today’s Meridith Viera that husband Ted no longer has compulsive gay thoughts or behavior. (msnbc)

Both Ted and Gayle say that their love life was always strong. Ted has said that he learned during therapy that he had been abused by an adult male when he was a child and he was acting out that experience as an adult.

In an appearance on “Oprah,” Ted said, “The biggest thing that’s helped me is therapy. Since that time, I have not had one compulsive thought or behavior.”

To Vieira, Gayle added, “In Ted’s case, he had had some experiences as a child that kept replaying themselves in his mind. Once he went to therapy he was able to identify that and was given the tools to deal with it. Because of that, he no longer has those compulsions. That’s not true for everybody. That’s his story.”

I marvel at people who discover memories during therapy. Especially those which fit so easily into the anti-gay mantra of “gays were all abused”.

And the magical healing of “compulsions”… well, I always worry for those folk. When you think that your natural attractions are simply compulsions from which you have recovered, you then have no skills for making appropriate decisions when you are tempted to sexually betray your wife.

Allegations of Sexual Misconduct By Another New Life Pastor

Jim Burroway

February 9th, 2009

Michelangelo Signorile apparently had another blockbuster program last Friday:

A Colorado Springs bail bondsman and sometime bounty hunter who has been investigating New Life Church and Ted Haggard for several years appeared on my show late on Friday and told me that he now has information on ten more cases of sexual misconduct on the part of Ted Haggard and that three of these involve minors. He also said that New Life Church had suppressed from the media an earlier case of a pastor at the church (which has many pastors under the senior pastor) who was convicted of sexual assault against a child under the age of 15 and got off easy with help from the church, only to later have his probation revoked. The convicted pastor then illegally left the country, he said, and he speculates that New Life Church may have helped him do so.

Bobby Brown, reading from what he said was a detective’s affidavit, told me that the pastor, Stephen Evans, was convicted in 1999 of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy and admitted to sexual contact with his own 14-year-old son and his own 15-year-old daughter, in a case that Brown says was somehow kept out of the media and has not been reported until now. Brown says that with the help and backing of New Life Church, Evans served no jail time at all, cutting a plea deal in which he’d agree to a “restoration” at the church – yes, just like the one that Ted Haggard went through to supposedly make him straight! – while serving five years on probation. It is likely that Ted Haggard, as senior pastor at the time, oversaw Evans’ restoration.

It appears that in 2001, Evans’ probation was revoked and he may have skipped the country. He’s believed to be in London now.

Brown also confirms that Christopher Beard, the counselor at New Life Church’s 24/7 program which Grant Haas spoke of, left the church due to sexual misconduct shortly after Haggard’s fall.

More From The Grant Haas Interview

Jim Burroway

February 5th, 2009

There’s more from Grant Haas’ appearance on Michelangelo Signorile’s show this week. If you want to know more about “Ted Two,” you’ll have to check that out on Michael’s web site, along with his defense of why he thinks it’s newsworthy. I’m not so sure, myself. But this one, I think, is. It’s where Grant Haas describes the first time he revealed his “struggles” to Ted Haggard.

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An unofficial transcript of this interview is available after the jump.

New Life Church’s 24/7 Program: “The Best Job In The World”

Jim Burroway

February 4th, 2009

Grant Haas, the young man who came forward last week with new allegations about Ted Haggard, appeared on Michelangelo Signorile’s program yesterday and spoke for about an hour and a half. Mike will be posting shorter audio portions over the next few days.

Today, he posted an edited clip of their discussion of New Life Church’s 24/7 program. This was, as Mike describes it:

…a sort of Bible boot camp where young men, 18-23, are worked out intensely and get all cut up and muscled while also praying to Jesus, immersed in this 24 hours a day, often being woken up at all hours of the night. Haggard and another man who is described as “struggling with homosexuality” often oversaw the program, including going to the gym with the young men in the morning to work out and shower with them. They often went on training missions — including simulated counter-terrorism missions, as Christians under attack, and you’ll hear about all of that. (Please don’t mind the grimaces on my face throughout: I really wasn’t that shocked and disgusted about what I was hearing! We had some technical/sound issues in the studio, and I was trying to cope with those problems, on the computer and to my producers, and was pretty frustrated by them, hence some of the looks on my face).

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As we reported yesterday, Pam Spaulding live-blogged the interview. Her highlights included:

  • Haggard told Grant that he would have an easier time going straight because he’s a top and “an asshole is similar to a vagina.”
  • Haggard revealed his “party formula” to Grant, involving crystal meth, poppers, Viagra, renting porn and masturbation, either alone or with others. Haggard said that he knew a lot of people who were into this type of activity.
  • Haggard suggested that Grant find a nice girl to marry, and offered his own daughter — the worst sort of “ex-gay” advice anyone could give.
  • Christopher Beard, the church volunteer who left New Life Church a month after Haggard’s downfall, headed the church’s 24/7 program for troubled young men. Beard told Grant that he and Haggard enjoyed watching the men in the locker room.
  • Haggard’s drug use was much worse than previously disclosed, including being high at the pulpit.

Haggard Accuser On Signorile Program

Jim Burroway

February 3rd, 2009

Grant Haas, who came forward last week with fresh allegations about Ted Haggard’s sexual inproprieties and drug use, was on Michelangelo Signorile’s radio program today. I wasn’t able to hear it, but according to Pam Spaulding, he really spilled quite a few beans:

Classic sleaze: Haas was asked by Haggard about the young man’s sexual preferences in the bedroom —  bondage, toys, groups, bathhouses, top, bottom, versatile, drugs. Ted told Haas that “since I preferred to be in a “top” position that it would be easy to become straight because “an asshole is similar to a vagina.” …

After going on and on in detail about same-sex action, Haggard would then back off and tell Haas that he needed to find a good woman to marry. And listen to this: Haggard offered up his daughter as a dating/marriage prospect for Haas! Knowingly offering to guide his own daughter into a relationship with a closeted man!

There’s more at Pam’s place. Some of it — “Ted Two” specifically — is definitely TMI, but all of it is disturbing. This definitely shows a man who is deeply troubled. I look forward to the audio of the interview being posted online before too much longer.

Thank You, Mike Jones

Jim Burroway

January 27th, 2009

I don’t know about you, but when I watched the KRDO report on Grant Haas’s accusations against Ted Haggard, I was disturbed to see how they treated their brief mention of Mike Jones. He’s the one who first exposed Haggard’s gay sexual activities to the national media. But when the KRDO reporter mentioned “Mike Jones, a gay escort,” the picture suddenly appeared grainy and menacing while ominous music rumbled underneath.

Sex workers certainly have it tough. They’re looked down upon, despised, and mistrusted. My point here isn’t to defend this line of work, but to defend these people as human beings and sometimes as heroes. Mike Jones is just one hero. He did the right thing. Ted Haggard even agrees.

Mike Jones did several things to earn a living. He was a personal trainer, but that’s not how he met Ted Haggard. Mike was also a masseur and an escort. He did for money some of the things that many of us do for love, what others do for lust, and what virtually all of us do for free. Maybe that’s why many seem to suspect that Mike only exposed Ted Haggard in order to collect the twenties on the table. They treat the very idea preposterous that a sex worker could do something honorable.

Mike did write a book, but it didn’t sell well. He didn’t make a lot of money off of this. I don’t know whether he expected to or not. Writing a book and not making much off of it is pretty normal, even for heroes. The truth is that heroes are rarely rewarded for being heroic. At best, most can expect a few brief moments in the spotlight when they’re typically thanked for what they did. And then it ends.

But Mike will always be known as an escort or a “massage therapist” in scare quotes. A sex worker. His full name is not Mike Jones, but Mike Jones A Gay Escort.

I don’t know what he expected when he went public with his story, and I’m not saying we should have all gone out and bought his book as our way of thanking him. But we should thank him.

Ted Haggard actively promoted and defended a particular message which brings suffering and hardship to a lot of LGBT people — especially to young people — while indulging in a dark and twisted caricature of the very thing he denounced. Mike Jones brought him down. By focusing on Mike as an escort and not as a hero, we miss seeing a clearer picture of what he did. Much like that grainy, frightening picture we saw of Mike on KRDO.

Haggard Accuser Says Haggard Encouraged Sex, Drug Use

Jim Burroway

January 27th, 2009

Last night, Colorado Springs’ KRDO aired their long-promised report on Grant Haas, a former New Life Church volunteer who came forward with more allegations about then-pastor Ted Haggard.

Grant joined New Life Church after having been kicked out of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago for revealing his sexual orientation to the Dean of Students. He told the dean that he was “struggling” and asked for help. The Dean told him they wouldn’t be able to help him, but suggested he go to Colorado Springs. Hass was only a semester away from getting a Bachelors degree in Pastoral Theology.

Four months after arriving in Colorado Springs and becoming a part of New Life Church, Ted Haggard asked him “What’s your story and what are you doing here?” Haas explained his situation, and he said Haggard’s eyes lit up and his whole demeanor changed toward him from then on.

In the KRDO video report, Grant does not confirm that any direct sexual contact took place bewteen himself and Haggard. Instead, in the accompanying article, Grant describes an incident when the two went on a trip to Cripple Creek:

“He asked me if we were going to be godly or bad that night,” Grant says, recalling their trip. The former volunteer says that meant either hanging out as friends, or buying Haggard porn and masturbate. I told him that I didn’t want that,” says Grant.

After a day in the small mountain town, both went back to Haggard’s hotel room. Grant says he just wanted Haggard to be his pastor and friend, but according to the young man, as they were lying in bed Haggard asked if he could masturbate. Grant told him no, but says Haggard did it anyway. “I couldn’t move,” says Grant. Grant was fearful to say anything to anyone. “He kind of made me have a guilt trip about it, so I wouldn’t say anything about it,” Grant remembers.

According to the video report, “after that life-changing night at Cripple Creek, Grant says he fell back into isolation, drinking heavily and taking prescription drugs. He says he even tried to commit suicide four separate times.”

Meanwhile over the next several months, Haas and Haggard exchanged between 1,000 to 2,000 text messages a month, many of them concerning sex and drug use. “It was like he had two personalities, it was like here is this 50-year-old pastor who is the ultimate man of God and then, this 16-year old horny boy who couldn’t keep himself together,” Grant said.

New Life Church agreed to pay Haas $180,000 for counseling and other expenses, with a stipulation that neither party talk about what transpired between Haas and Haggard. But Grant says that despite the agreement, the church continually neglected to pay his medical bills.

“I really felt the church staff did what they could to get me to move to a different city, to get me to stop going to the church, to make these promises to do whatever they could to help, but their main focus was to cover it up,” says Grant. “They think Ted Haggard is not a harm to this community and I really think they’re wrong, they’re dead wrong.”

The KRDO video report also contains excerpts from taped telephone conversations between Haas and Haggard, in which Haggard acknowledged and apologized for his inappropriate behavior and thanked Grant for deleting the text messages.

Here is the full KRDO video report:

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Breaking: Mike Jones Speaks Out About Latest Ted Haggard Revelations

Jim Burroway

January 25th, 2009

In a new, emotionally charged YouTube video, Mike Jones voices his anger with New Life Church and their past refusal to admit what they had known all along: that there were others in the church who had had a sexual relationship with then-Pastor Ted Haggard. In this video statement, Jones reveals that he tried to contact New Life Church when others were coming to him with stories about similar contacts with Ted Haggard:

I knew that there were others, others that I could not publicly out. They had to do it themselves. But they were scared. Some of their parents knew about what was going on at the church. And some of the parents just wanted to turn a blind eye to it.

I also realized it was going to be just probably me, out there all alone facing the press, facing the criticism.

Now when Brady Boyd took over as pastor of New Life Church, I contacted him. I wanted to talk to him about these other young men that were coming to me with their stories. This was serious.

And you know, Pastor Boyd refused to meet with me.

Mike Jones also talks about what he endured — including from within the gay community — after revealing his sexual contact with Ted Haggard. Mike expresses considerable anger over what he went through, particularly those who  dismissed him as “just a whore” who was “just escorting.”

But the greater part of his anger reserved for New Life Church, which for the past two years maintained the fiction that Mike was the only person Ted Haggard had sexual contact with — even though they knew differently:

[M]ost of my anger is at New Life Church. For over two years, I have suffered being all alone out there, taking all the heat for all that’s going on. For all this time, they knew there were others. And they paid hush money to this man to be quiet, when they could have admitted it, that there were others right at that moment. And that would have helped me out so much, instead of putting me out there to face it all on my own.

I am so angry at the church. They stated at that time that Mike Jones was the only man out there that had relations with Ted Haggard. And it’s wrong and it was a lie. And they owe me an apology.

Watch it:

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[Video filmed and edited by BTB’s Daniel Gonzales on behalf of Mike Jones]

Click here to read a transcript of Mike Jones’ statement

Update On Latest Ted Haggard Revelation

Jim Burroway

January 25th, 2009

Colorado Springs KRDO television reporter Tak Landrock appeared in a teaser of a report promising a full report on Monday about a second accuser against Ted Haggard. The unnamed young man, described as being in his twenties, said that some of his sexual encounters with Ted Haggard as non-consensual, and he revealed that the church paid him a large sum of money to keep quiet about it.

The KRDO teaser contained a brief telephone conversation between the young man and Haggard, in which Haggard admits to the relationship. New Life Church, which Ted Haggard founded and pastored  until his fall from grace, has refused to respond to questions from KRDO.

We noticed that the church’s statement on the latest accusations acknowledged that there were others who had a sexual relationship with Ted Haggard. KRDO has confirmed that observation.

Haggard is scheduled to appear on CNN’s Larry King Live on Thursday, and he already has taped a segment on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”  “The Trials of Ted Haggard,” a documentary about Ted Haggard’s fall from grace, will premiere on HBO on Thursday.

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