Friday, November 03, 2006

megachurch pastor steps down amid rumors of gay affair

megachurch pastor ted haggard, one of the nation's most influential evangelical christians, has resigned his post as president of the national association of evangelicals after allegations surfaced that he had a three-year affair with a gay prostitute. he will also be stepping down (temporarily, he says) from his megapulpit:

Facing shocking allegations that he paid a gay prostitute for sex, prominent Colorado Springs pastor Ted Haggard placed himself on administrative leave Thursday from his church position and resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals, a platform that made him a rising star in conservative politics.

Haggard, 50, said in a statement released by his 14,000- member New Life Church that he could "not continue to minister under the cloud created by the accusations made on Denver talk radio this morning."

In interviews over the past two days with KHOW talk radio, 9News and The Denver Post, 49-year-old Michael Forest Jones of Denver alleges he had sex on a monthly basis with Haggard over three years. Jones claimed Haggard used the name "Art," admitted he was married and used methamphetamine before the two had sex.

mike jones (not the rapper) also claims he has physical evidence: a personal letter haggard sent him as well as two voice mails:

The voice mails for from a man who calls himself "Art."

It should be noted Haggard's middle name is Arthur.

The first voice message, left on August 4 at 2:18 p.m., says:

"Hi Mike, this is Art. Hey, I was just calling to see if we could get any more. Either $100 or $200 supply. And I could pick it up really anytime I could get it tomorrow or we could wait till next week sometime and so I also wanted to get your address. I could send you some money for inventory but that's probably not working, so if you have it then go ahead and get what you can and I may buzz up there later today, but I doubt your schedule would allow that unless you have some in the house. Okay, I'll check in with you later. Thanks a lot, bye."

The second voice message, left on August 4 at 5:10 p.m., says:

"Hi Mike, this is Art, I am here in Denver and sorry that I missed you. But as I said, if you want to go ahead and get the stuff, then that would be great. And I'll get it sometime next week or the week after or whenever. I will call though you early next week to see what's most convenient for you. Okay? Thanks a lot, bye."

Jones claims Art is referring to methamphetamine in the messages.

9NEWS had a nationally known voice recognition expert, Richard Sanders, listen to the voice mails to determine if it is Haggard. Sanders has previously worked on such high profile cases as the Oklahoma City bombing trial, the Columbine High School shootings, the JonBenet Ramsey murder investigation, and the Kobe Bryant case.

"This certainly sounds like the same person," said Sanders, after listening to the voice mails.

In his final report, Sanders found that of 12 single words that were the same on both recordings, nine of those words were perfect matches. He also found that the entire phrase, "I don't know," was also a precise match.

haggard's buddy james dobson (president of focus on the family) complained that the media "would report a rumor like this based on nothing but one man's accusation", and of course he's right... for once. the charges have not proven (yet?). but haggard's sudden resignation as soon as the allegations came out are extremely suspicious. even if he's innocent, he sure as sin looks guilty. if there were no substance to the story, why not just deny it, say jones is crazy, and move on?

assuming he's as guilty as he looks, what is he actually guilty of? being gay or bi: so what? there's nothing wrong with that, though his followers might disagree with me. cheating on his wife: sure, but that's not illegal. sex with a prostitute: yes, and that's illegal but i personally don't have a problem with that. of course, his biggest crime is not against the law: rank hypocrisy of the highest order.

update: haggard has apparently partially confessed:

Haggard, who has publicly denied the accusation, also temporarily stepped down as senior pastor of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs.

But the acting senior pastor at New Life Church, Ross Parsley, told Colorado Springs-based KKTV late on Thursday that Haggard had admitted to some of the allegations.

"There has been some admission of indiscretion, not admission to all of the material that has been discussed, but there is an admission of some guilt," Parsley said.

2nd update: most unconvincing denial ever:

The Rev. Ted Haggard, who resigned as one of the nation's top evangelical leaders, admitted Friday he had contacted male prostitute Mike Jones "for a massage" and bought drugs from him.

Haggard said he never had sex with Jones and never used the methamphetamine drug he bought.

Haggard told CNN affiliate KUSA-TV Friday that he received Jones' name as "a referral" from a hotel where he was staying in Denver.

He did not name the hotel. "I did call him," Haggard said. "I called him to buy some meth, but I threw it away."

"I was buying it for me but I never used it. I was tempted, I bought it, but I never used it."

"He told me about it. I went there for a massage."

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