Evangelical Leader Ted Haggard Accused of Gay Hooker Affair

A gay prostitute claims he had a three-year pay-for-sex relationship with National Association of Evangelicals president Ted Haggard.

A gay man and admitted male escort claims he has had an ongoing sexual relationship with a well-known Evangelical pastor from Colorado Springs. Mike Jones told 9 Wants to Know Investigative Reporter Paula Woodward he has had a “sexual business” relationship with Pastor Ted Haggard for the past three years.

Haggard is the founder and senior leader of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs. The church has 14,000 members. He is also president of the National Association of Evangelicals, an organization that represents millions of people. Haggard is married with five children and an outspoken critic of gay marriage.

Jones broke his silence Wednesday morning on talk radio.

In an exclusive interview Wednesday night, Haggard denied the claims and told 9NEWS he is prepared for his own church to investigate them. “I did not have a homosexual relationship with a man in Denver,” said Haggard. “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, but I’m not even the guy who will investigate it or question it. I don’t know what the dynamics are, but this independent group will come in and do that.”

Jones started talking to 9 Wants to Know two months ago. He claims Haggard has been paying him for sex over the past three years, even though Haggard preaches that homosexuality is a sin. Jones also claims Haggard used methamphetamine in his presence on several occasions. “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,” said Jones.

Rockie Mountain News reporter Charlie Brennan adds,

During an appearance today on the Peter Boyles show on KHOW 630 AM radio, Jones said “After sitting back and contemplating this issue, the biggest reason (for exposing it) is being a gay man all my life, I have experience with my friends, some great sadness of people that were in a relationship through the years” and were not able to enjoy the same rights and privileges as a married man and woman. “I felt it was my responsibility to my fellow brothers and sisters, that I had to take a stand, and I cannot sit back anymore and hear (what) to me is an anti-gay message.

This is a typical rationale argued for the “outing” of gay conservatives. It may well be, as Haggard pleads, a despicable lie designed to influence the outcome of voting on a ballot initiative.

If true, though, it would be rank hypocrisy of the highest order. John Aravosis points to a Harper’s article from last year asserting that, “The press tends to regard Dobson as the most powerful evangelical Christian in America, but Pastor Ted is at least his equal. Whereas Dobson plays the part of national scold, promising to destroy politicians who defy the Bible, Pastor Ted quietly guides those politicians through the ritual of acquiescence required to save face.”

Haggard’s STATEMENT OF FAITH (“What He Believes“) makes no mention of homosexuality but he has certainly been vocal on the subject. The Statement does, however, say that “The Holy Bible, and only the Bible, is the authoritative Word of God. It alone is the final authority for determining all doctrinal truths. In its original writing, the Bible is inspired, infallible and inerrant.” Most agree that homosexual acts are sinful under biblical teaching. In Haggard’s defense, though, he’s not a Good Works kinda guy: “Salvation is a gift from God, not a result of our good works or of any human effort.”

UPDATE: So far, the blog reaction I’ve found on this story has been exclusively from the Left, most of it pretty much what you’d expect. Some pretty good stuff, too.

PZ Myers observes that “So far, it’s nothing but innuendo and accusation” and fears that proof would have the unfortunate effect of “mov[ing]the debate from the substance of the danger of evangelical nonsense to wailing about hypocrisy and homosexuality.” More amusingly, he notes the uncanny resemblance between Haggard and “that horndog, Steve Stifler.”

Also on the lighter side, Wonk has an amusing cartoon involving Haggard from Robert Lanham’s The Sinner’s Guide to the Evangelical Right, “which is an awesome book.”

UPDATE: Shakespeare’s Sister provides this (presumably unintentionally) funny commentary: “I don’t know what the evidence of this relationship is, although I’m presuming Jones provided something more than his word during the two months he was speaking to the television station. I can’t imagine an NBC affiliate would run the story on hearsay alone. Nonetheless, at this point, it’s an accusation only.” [Emphasis mine]

UPDATE: Haggard has resigned his posts.

The leader of the influential National Association of Evangelicals, a vocal opponent of the drive for same-sex marriage, resigned Thursday after being accused of paying for sex with a man. The Rev. Ted Haggard also stepped aside as head of his 14,000-member New Life Church while a church panel investigates, saying he could “not continue to minister under the cloud created by the accusations.”

Prudent if he’s guilty, truly sad otherwise. The right thing to do, probably, regardless.

UPDATE (11/3): Haggard is admitting some of the claims:

After Pastor Ted Haggard went public Wednesday night denying allegations of a homosexual affair, senior church officials told KKTV 11News Thursday evening, Pastor Ted Haggard has admitted to some of the claims made by a former male escort. The church’s Acting Senior Pastor, Ross Parsley, tells KKTV 11 News that Pastor Haggard has admitted to some of the indiscretions claimed by Mike Jones, but not all of them.

I shot the sheriff — but I didn’t shoot the deputy?

Meanwhile, a voice expert corroborates the cliams:

A nationally known voice recognition expert says he believes voice mails left for a male escort are probably from a pastor in Colorado Springs. Nationally known voice recognition expert, Richard Sanders, compared two similar statements – one made in a voice mail recording and one from an interview of Pastor Ted Haggard conducted by 9NEWS. “Overall, I would say it’s probably the same person, from a scientific standpoint,” said Sanders, after listening to the voice recordings.

Meanwhile, LaShawn Barber reminds us, “Christians can be perverts, too!” So it would seem.

UPDATE (11/3): Haggard’s accuser has failed his polygraph. Having myself “failed” a polygraph despite telling the truth, I frankly don’t put much credence in that one way or another. Still, it’s noteworthy.

Steve Verdon has more. It may well be that Haggard is admitting to the drugs but not the gay pay-per sex.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. All we have is an accusation and a denial.

    I can make an accusation that James Joyner has killed, cooked and eaten midgets in my presence while raping their children. James can deny the claim. But who would you believe, me or the cannibalistic pedophile?

    It would seem to me that if the accuser has evidence (e.g. video) or can at least make a list of dates, times and durations that would match to “availability” of Ted to have been in Denver you would have something.

    I would think that the best defense, assuming Ted is innocent, would be to sue for libel and get the record out under legal rules of evidence discovery.

  2. whatever says:

    James apparently believes (if this story is true) that if you believe in the Bible, you must be a saint. Typical of anti-religous people.

    One can believe in the Bible and do things that it says are wrong. The Bible promises forgiveness for one’s sins, not that it will protect someone from sinning altogether. You can even beg people to not do the sins that you yourself do, if you believe they are wrong. This concept is apparently beyond the grasp of some.

    Oh, and I am sure James will post further on this if it proves to be false.

  3. Ed says:

    The Rock Mountain News says that the accuser has recorded voicemails and a letter from Haggard, and that he had also witnessed Haggard use methamphetamine.

  4. James Joyner says:

    yaj: Jones has apparently volunteered to take a polygraph. We’ll see if he has any evidence. Generally, once these things go public, they sort themselves out pretty quickly.

    whatever: There is a chasm between not being a saint and having an illegal, adulterous, homosexual affair with a prostitute over a period of three years while loudly denouncing adultery, fornication, whoremongering, and homosexuality. My understanding is that one is expected not only to ask forgiveness for sins but actually repent and stop the sinning.

  5. Mark says:

    My understanding is that one is expected not only to ask forgiveness for sins but actually repent and stop the sinning.

    So do you think we are going to see a Jimmy Swaggart-style tearful “I have sinned” speech? heh.

  6. madmatt says:

    And how many of these accusations end up being false…I can’t recall one ever being found false off hand? Once again the hypocrisy is astounding….and as for the accusers rleiability…I am forced to listen to rethugs who have never served criticize soldiers who happen to be democrats…they are scum, yet the media repeats what they say.

  7. Anderson says:

    My problem is, I *want* this to be true, b/c it’s my pet theory that the loudest & most obnoxious sexual puritans are those with the most to hide.

    So I am going to be good & remain agnostic, as it were, until we hear something more definite.

  8. Not that I can imagine an NBC affiliate running with an unsubstantiated story a week before the election (where only the accusation will come out and not the investigation before the election), but if he offered to take a polygraph, wouldn’t it have been prudent to have at least waited the one day it would take to arrange, take and interpret the polygraph results? Or does this fall under the category of too good a story to check.

  9. just me says:

    I am honestly trying to figure out why I should care.

    I don’t even know who this guy is, so I don’t know if that helps or hurts me as far as my Christianity is concerned, but the reality is that Christians and Christian leaders are subject to temptation like anyone else, and I don’t expect perfection-and I also don’t think tempatation for Christians and non Christians is limited to the “minor” stuff. I will say that when a Christian leader fails miserably, that they should repent, step down from leadership and try to get their lives back in order, but Christians don’t have some magic-“never do anything wrong” pills, even though I sometimes get the impression people think we do.

  10. M1EK says:

    “just me”:

    It has more to do with the fact that the Jews and the Wiccans and the atheists and the agnostics and SOME Christians aren’t telling us we’re all going to hell for what we’re doing; aren’t riling up people to vote their way or burn in hell; etc.

    The only two groups which are this bad are evangelical Christians and Islamists. That ought to give you pause, but I doubt it will.

  11. madmatt says:

    has there ever been one of these types of accusations that wasn’t proven to be true? I cannot think of any…although usually the offender is being arraigned beofre we hear about anything.

    It’s the hypocrisy, stupid!

  12. Len says:

    wouldn’t it have been prudent to have at least waited the one day it would take to arrange, take and interpret the polygraph results? Or does this fall under the category of too good a story to check.

    Read the 9news story to which James linked in the first sentence of his post. They’ve been sitting on this story for two months. One can only hope that they would have done a little investigating during that time before deciding to break the story and exposing themselves to a serious libel charge.

    It will definitely be interesting to see how this develops.

  13. Mark says:

    has there ever been one of these types of accusations that wasn’t proven to be true?

    Yes, Sandy Koufax was “outed” by the New York Post when he was never “in” to begin with.

  14. Anderson says:

    “I did not have a homosexual relationship with a man in Denver,” said Haggard. “I am steady with my wife. I’m faithful to my wife.”

    Y’know, if someone accused *me* of paying a gay prostitute to have sex with me, I don’t think I’d limit my public denial to “a man in Denver.” Odd phrasing, that.

  15. Christopher says:

    “Nonetheless, at this point, it’s an accusation only”

    So why run it, James? Why run it here? I don’t know who he is and it seems a lot of others don’t either. All you have is an accusation and a denial yet you choose to ruin the man in your OTB blog. You are certainly free to post anything u want, but why would you?

  16. Steve Verdon says:

    Y’know, if someone accused *me* of paying a gay prostitute to have sex with me, I don’t think I’d limit my public denial to “a man in Denver.” Odd phrasing, that.

    Yep, my first thought, “Did you have a gay relationship with a man in Boulder? With a man in house with a mouse? In car near a bar? Would you, could you Ted Haggard?”

  17. James Joyner says:

    Anderson and Steve: My first thought was actually of Clinton’s denial of having sexual relations with THAT WOMAN, Ms. Lewinski.

    Chris: The story’s out. It’s run in the man’s metro newspaper and television station. I can’t imagine OTB is going to put him over the top.

  18. madmatt says:

    well that was a quick fall…he is stepping down…for the good of his parish…heheheheh I read that as yes I did all sorts of dirty things and need to check in to rehab because I am afraid to deal with the press…I mean I am an alcoholic…maybe they should start a breathalyzer booth wherever fundies and rethugs gather.

    You know I have been drunk a lot and not once have I had a 3 year gay relationship!

  19. Anderson says:

    Yep, my first thought, “Did you have a gay relationship with a man in Boulder? With a man in house with a mouse? In car near a bar? Would you, could you Ted Haggard?”

    LOL!

  20. Triumph says:

    I am shocked that this is surprising anyone! Anyone who has ever seen a picture of good ole’ Teddy could attest that he sends the gay-dar through the roof!

    http://www.markdroberts.com/images/Haggard-Ted-3.jpg

    Compare Teddy with the ole’ gay Governor from NJ, Mr . Mcgreevy:

    http://www.essex.edu/media/newsletter/volII/images/james.mcgreevey.jpg

    They look like kissin cousins!

  21. floyd says:

    behind everybody’s back,” said Jones [especially yours,mr.jones?][lol]

  22. The whole Haggard story……

    From TPM: A Colorado TV station reported last night that Rev. Ted Haggard, a major figure in the evangelical movement who has not hesitated to cross over into the arena of secular politics, allegedly had an ongoing sexual relationship with……

  23. While one cannot conclude that this accusation will prove to be true, the man bringing the allegation has been in the Denver and Colorado Springs area for some time. His advertisements for services have appeared in local gay publications for a number of years and it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for him to come forward without sufficient and accurate information to prove his claims. That is simply speculation on my part but it would seem like a huge mistake if his story is a fabrication. My hunch is that the information will bear the coming scrutiny and that the pastor’s secrets are about to be exposed.

    If Jesus was to be our example, then I don’t understand this thing we now call Christian values. Pastor Haggard may believe that he speaks for God but his actions suggest that he merely fears his own humanity. Further, if the values he espouses exist to demonstrate his faith in the God he knows, then the God he knows must have already seen this element of his humanity that he cannot personally accept…which would mean that any true God has already accepted that which we humans won’t and would also prove that the God Haggard purports to represent is not a real God but a God of his own creation designed to serve his flawed view of the human condition.

    Read more here:

    http://www.thoughttheater.com

  24. Ed says:

    I’m sorry but you don’t resign this quickly unless there’s something to it.

    Are all the religious gay-bashers really just closet cases?

    Unbelievable!

  25. Evangelical leader hit with sex claims

    The leader of the 30 million-member National Association of Evangelicals, a vocal opponent of the dr…

  26. MARKIE says:

    The headline should read: BUSH’S SPIRITUAL ADVISOR SUCKS COCK.

  27. Anderson says:

    I don’t think that stepping down is “the right thing to do” if the accusations are false.

    Note the new non-denial: “Never had a gay relationship with anybody.” Sex with a gay hooker isn’t a “relationship,” surely.

    If the accusations are true, I feel for the guy, but I have to be dismayed by his lack of candor in thundering against gays. Of course, he could consistently believe that gay sex is a sin while having gay sex; but you’d think that awareness of his own weakness would make him more charitable. –But then we get into the whole intolerant-evangelicals thing …

  28. Evangelical backlash…

    I listened to this podcast yesterday, before the Haggard story broke. It’s a nuanced and convincing assessment of evangelical disillusionment. From dailyprincetonian.com: “We are seeing the start of disillusionment round three,” Goodstein said. “Th…

  29. Ed says:

    Maybe some of the coverage has to do with this, since the President wants to ‘dance with the one that brung ya”.

    According to the Wall Street Journal on 6/21/2005:

    Ted Haggard, the head of the 30-million strong National Association of Evangelicals, jokes that the only disagreement between himself and the leader of the Western world is automotive: Mr. Bush drives a Ford pickup, whereas he prefers a Chevy.

  30. legion says:

    To steal Duncan Black’s ‘Simple Answers to Simple Questions’ schtick, Ed asks:
    Are all the religious gay-bashers really just closet cases?

    Yes.

    This has been Simple Answers to Simple Questions.

    In other news, Haggard’s church is now saying he has admitted to ‘some’ of the allegations, but is adamantly refusing to say which ones. No, really.

  31. James Joyner says:

    Anderson: I don’t think that stepping down is “the right thing to do” if the accusations are false.

    The problem is that the fall-out will be injurious to the organization regardless. Hazzard will be focusing on clearing his name rather than doing his job.

    Presumably, this is just a stepping aside and, if these charges turn out to be slander, Hazzard will be reinstated.

  32. Anderson says:

    he has admitted to ’some’ of the allegations, but is adamantly refusing to say which ones

    “I didn’t inhale swallow”? Come *on*, mister.

  33. legion says:

    Anderson,
    It depends on what the definition of ‘jiz’ is…

    (Hope it doesn’t violate local policies, James, but it was too funny to pass up 🙂

  34. I can make an accusation that James Joyner has killed, cooked and eaten midgets in my presence while raping their children.

    I can second this claim. And their pets.

  35. Anderson says:

    I can second this claim. And their pets.

    Yeah, what’s that trip to the vet REALLY about, JJ?

  36. Anderson says:

    Gay prostitute flunks polygraph … *after* pastor admits to “some” charges.

    Doh!

  37. floyd says:

    The headline should read: BUSH’S SPIRITUAL ADVISOR SUCKS COCK….Markie; that should help the GOP get more democrat votes!ya think???…

  38. floyd says:

    MiEK; If someone told me that I was going to “OZ” if I didn’t do their bidding, it would give no pause , nor would it be seen as a threat.[lol] since “OZ” doesn’t exist. So why do you feel threatened with the promise of “hell”?? ALSO; I have never even once heard of hell being threatened for voting the wrong way. besides “RADICAL ISLAMISTS”threaten BEHEADING for disagreement. your analogy was out of line.