"He (Haggard) doesn't really lead the (evangelical) movement. … He is the president of an association that is very loosely knit and I've never been a member of it," Falwell said in a CNN interview on Thursday.
Yeah, when they elect those presidents to the National Association of Evangelicals of 30 million members, they don't really believe that the president speaks for evangelicals in any way. I mean, presidents are usually just, you know, figure heads who can have gay sex whenever they want!
It strikes me as incriminating that the pseudonym Ted chose for his tryst with the gay prostitute (assuming Ted's guilty) was Art which is short for his middle name Arthur. Apparently selection of a middle name when you want to cover your identity is pretty common. Anyway...
Ted Haggard featured prominently in the world I come from. His church is huge, he has spoken on Focus on the Family countless times, one of our Vineyard pastors moved to his church to head up the "prayer for the nations" and I have a dear friend who pastors a church down the road from Ted's church. To say I'm stunned would not adequately grasp the nature of my feelings.
Mostly, I'm reeling from the power of homosexual needs/urges/inclinations. Our sexuality is the key to who we are, gay or straight.
I'm so sick of people saying one thing and living a lie... but I get it. Totally understandable. The membership in evangelical community is probably the most well-developed "adapted to modern life" community available today. The next closest experience might be season tickets and tailgating for your favorite NFL team... but then the sense of community is seasonal and probably none of those fans show up with meals for your newborn babies.
The thing of it is, to be an evangelical means that you have a way to connect to human beings who care about you, who make living lives of decency a priority, who involve themselves in the meaning of life with a shared task and goal. The only sticky wicket, then, is when your meaning of life stops matching the stated theology and vision of the evangelical tradition. That fork in the road leads a few places, I've observed: the Catholic and/or Orthodox church, apostasy (or some version of humanism or liberal theology), and secrecy (hiding disagreements... particularly hiding "sinful" behaviors from the powers that be).
I mean, what is a guy like Ted to do? He is a pastor. Not exactly a marketable skill for the wider community. If he loses this job, he loses everything - all the years invested in his reputation, relationships, retirement. He loses identity, place, purpose, friends. He loses his career and contacts. In short, he will lose his life... to gain it? I wonder.
Is there any hope that evangelicals can learn from this dreadful experience? Can they learn to create community without requiring everyone to agree with them on all points, can they learn and grow and change and discover, rather than defend, protect and rigidly adhere to?
If they can't, dissent will lead to the same wretched places they reject and despise... and those places, for many, become oases and refuges after the pain of departing, but for others, that leave-taking becomes the source of their greatest humiliation.
Update: Church has issued a statement that Haggard has confessed to some of the allegations.