A Matter of New Life and Meth

From 9-News, yesterday:


Interviewer: Do you know Mike Jones?

Pastor Ted Haggard: No, I do not know Mike Jones.


I: Do you…have you ever done drugs?

H: I have never done drugs, ever. Not even in high school.


I: Why would he pick you out of everyone?

H: I have no idea, I have no idea. He says he saw me on TV.


H:…if somebody has an accusation, we have a system to investigate that, and we will do that, and, erm, and we trust that that will happen. We’re not hesitant at all with an independent group asking the questions, of…what’d you say his name was?

I : Mike.

H:…Mike, and, erm, hearing him, and then investigating it and deciding what I should, what should be done with me.

From the AP, today:

Evangelist Ted Haggard admitted Friday that he bought methamphetamine and received a massage from a gay prostitute who claims he was paid for drug-fueled trysts by the outspoken gay marriage opponent.

…Talking to reporters outside his house Friday, Haggard denied the sex allegations but said that he did buy meth from the man because he was curious.

…Haggard, a married father of five, said he never had sex with Mike Jones…He said he did get a massage from Jones after being referred to him by a Denver hotel.

Alas for Haggard, this qualified admission might have had a bit more credibility had it not been for the earlier performance (which was very impressive, although the “what’d you say his name was?” gilded the lily slightly).

As others have noted, Haggard’s attraction to meth may perhaps have been connected with his interest in weight loss; a year ago he published The Jerusalem Diet, for which Amazon has the Publishers Weekly review:

Haggard, pastor of the huge New Life Church in Colorado Springs, proposes a diet that was born in, yes, Jerusalem. Haggard was there in 1998 when he realized he’d gained too much weight to comfortably fit in his clothes. He decided that for one day, he would eat only fruits, veggies and nuts. Voila! He felt better and looked better in his clothes. Gradually, one day at a time (and about one pound a week), he returned to his target weight. Now, whenever he gains a pound or two, he restricts his diet for a day and exercises for an hour; within 24 hours, he’s usually returned to his target. In fact, he finds that the routine of weighing himself every day serves as a good deterrent to overeating…


(Pic via Out Front Colorado)

Colorado Springs Surprise for Haggard

Haggard to be Investigated by Pastor who Denounced Pokemon as Occultic

I suppose I should be grateful to Mike Jones, the male escort whose somewhat unexpected allegations against Ted Haggard are no doubt responsible for a sudden surge of hits to my blog posts concerning the now ex-head of the National Association of Evangelicals. The Colorado Springs Gazette has perhaps the most in-depth coverage:

Jones said he had advertised himself as an escort on the Internet and that a man who called himself Art contacted him. Jones said he later saw the man on television identified as Haggard.

…The Rev. Ross Parsley, associate senior pastor, will serve as acting senior pastor for 14,000-member New Life Church while the investigation into the allegations proceeds.

Parsley has since informed the media that Haggard has admitted to “some indiscretions”, and a planned press conference of national evangelical leaders to offer support has reportedly been called off. The Gazette continues:

…Greg Montoya, editor of a newspaper that focuses on Denver’s gay, lesbian and transgender community, Out Front Colorado, said Jones is a well known figure who was voted by the paper’s readers three times as the best massage artist and personal trainer in the area.

Jones’s website reveals that he was also “Former state bodybuilding and powerlifting champion”. The report adds that

…Montoya said rumors about Haggard’s love life have circulated through Denver’s gay community for the past year.

Meanwhile, Jones has been contacted by Jeff Sharlet, whose fair but critical profile of Haggard appeared in Harpers in May 2005:

I just talked to Jones on the phone. He’s not vindictive, nor particularly political; he’s voted for Republicans and Democrats. He struggled with his decision, out of compassion for a man in the closet. He was motivated, he said, simply by being a gay man who’s been around long enough to know how Ted’s politics play out in the ordinary lives of people Jones cares about. That’s about as good a motive for outing someone as I’ve ever heard.

Fair enough, although whether such an alleged revelation can be squared with the ethic of discretion that must be central to Jones’s profession is another matter. Sharlet also links us to a story he wrote for Nerve about Christian Right books on sex for men:

…Of course, if you ask [James] Dobson why homosexuality looms so large in the evangelical mind, he’ll tell you it’s because godless humanists planted it there by way of subversive signals in our television programming. Ask Pastor Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and good cop to Dobson’s bad cop at the top of the evangelical world, and he’ll offer a more nuanced answer. Like most fundamentalists, Haggard believes that sexual sin is among the worst; he also knows it is the most common. Evangelicals, he’ll say, aren’t more obsessed with sexuality these days; rather, homosexuals are, somehow, more homosexual. The official line is that gay marriage marks a tipping point (Haggard, like many evangelicals, is a fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s book of that name) into wholesale hedonism. The unofficial line, among leaders such as Haggard and Dobson is that it’s a fight their side has already lost.

…Christian conservatives loathe all forms of homo- and bisexuality, of course, but it is the gay man (singular; he’s an archetype) who looms largest in their books and sermons and blogs and cell group meetings. Not, for the most part, as a figure of evil, but one to be almost envied. “The gay man” is the new seductress sent by Satan to tempt the men of Christendom. He takes what he wants and loves whom he will and his life, in the imagination of Christian men’s groups, is an endless succession of orgasms, interrupted only by jocular episodes of male bonhomie. The gay man promises a guilt-free existence, the garden before Eve. He is thought to exist in the purest state of “manhood,” which is boyhood, before there were girls.

New Life Church, meanwhile, has put out a statement (links added):

…Under the governing structure of New Life Church, there is a board of overseers consisting of four senior pastors of other congregations. Those overseers have authority to conduct an inquiry, to discipline the senior pastor, to remove him from his position, or to restore him to ministry. The overseers of New Life Church are: Rev. Larry Stockstill, Senior Pastor of Bethany World Prayer Center, in Baker, Louisiana; Rev. Mark Cowart, Senior Pastor of Church For All Nations in Colorado Springs; Rev. Tim Ralph, Senior Pastor of New Covenant Fellowship in Larkspur, Colorado; and Rev. Michael Ware, Senior Pastor of Victory Church in Westminister, Colorado.

That team should be able to get to the bottom of things – after all, in 1999 Mark Cowart discovered that Pokemon was a occultist conspiracy:

…While driving with his kids, he heard them in the back seat talking about “Abra” and “Cadabra,” and “my antenna went up,” Cowart said.

Cowart said one of his concerns is that one of the Pokeman characters sprouts horns. Another concern, he said, is that children exploring a Pokemon Web site can click to other games, including “Magic: the Gathering,” a game similar to Dungeons and Dragons.

Cowart got his children’s pastor to give a demonstration; he

burned Pokemon trading cards with a blowtorch and struck a plastic Pokemon action figure with a 30-inch sword.

Hopefully Haggard’s interrogation will be less intense…