November 05, 2006

What Pastor Ted Preached

haggard.JPG

Ted Haggart challenging Richard Dawkins about evolution - click to view

Last year I posted some excerpts from the Harper's article about Pastor Ted Haggard who was one of the most influential evangelical leaders in the United States.

This year in May Harper's Magazine had several investigative pieces on the Christian Right. One of the movements they investigated was the most powerful Mega-Church in the US: the New Life Church, run by Pastor Ted Haggard. As Harper's reported, Haggard's New Life Church defines what it means to be evangelical:

...[evangelicals are an] army of Christian capitalists.... "They're pro-free market, they're pro-private property," he said. "That's what evangelical stands for."

...he describes the church that good Christians want: "I want my finances in order, my kids trained, and my wife to love life. I want good friends who are a delight and who provide protection for my family and me should life become difficult someday... I want stability and, at the same time, steady forward movement. I want the church to help me live life well, not exhaust me with endless 'worthwhile' projects." By "worthwhile projects" Ted means building funds and soup kitchens alike. It's not that he opposes these; it's just that he is sick of hearing about them and believes that other Christians are, too. He knows that for Christianity to prosper in the free market, it needs more than "moral values" - it needs customer value.

New Lifers, Pastor Ted writes with evident pride, "like the benefits, risks, and maybe above all, the excitement of a free-market society." ... He believes it is time "to harness the forces of free-market capitalism in our ministry."

Pastor Ted sees the New Lifers as the bulwark against Islam.

"My fear," he says, "is that my children will grow up in an Islamic state."

And that is why he believes spiritual war requires a virile, worldly counterpart. "I teach a strong ideology of the use of power," he says, "of military might, as a public service." He is for preemptive war, because he believes the Bible's exhortations against sin set for us a preemptive paradigm, and he is for ferocious war, because "the Bible's bloody. There's a lot about blood."

If Pastor Ted is the leader of the fastest growing church and he wields the power on politicians that this article says, then I fear our some American versions of Christianity have way too much in common with that of Hitler's Germany.

Harper's has now put Jeff Sharlet's article online. [Update: this link is dead. Here's one that is still live.]

Fred Clark writes on why the exposure of Haggard's secret is so huge. And he points out that Jeff Sharlet says that he missed the underlying story when he wrote about Haggard for Harpers because he missed how the obsession with homosexuality affected Haggard. Jeff wrote later about the obsession of homosexuality later in another article where he posits that '"The gay man" is the new seductress sent by Satan to tempt the men of Christendom.'

Of course, if you ask 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.

So many of the authoritarian leaders such as Pastor Ted Haggard are consumed by hatred of their own inner secrets and hated lives, and they use their hatred of themselves to condemn others who exhibit these weaknesses to the world while envying and desiring the freedom and power of Lucifer. And today conservatives in the United States are riddled with those who curse the mote in the eyes of others while ignoring the log that is embedded in their own eyes. Thus they show how the evil of hating one's self is transformed into unrelenting persecution of the scapegoat who has been designated to carry the sins of mankind.

Posted by Mary at November 5, 2006 12:34 AM | Religion | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |
Comments

min-5 the dem candidate for min-05, Keith Elison, is a muslim

Posted by: ccoaler at November 5, 2006 01:37 AM

In 10 mins: Bush on TV

He will defend the death sentence for Saddam Hussein.
Is it just blamable self-justification for a war with bad reasons or is it just verdict against a cruel and inhuman dictator who was unknown to human mankind?
Saddam shouted "traitors" and "long live the people" only seconds after the judge said hanging. The judge that is in place for the other judge.

Posted by: ccoaler at November 5, 2006 11:15 AM

I don't think you can brand all evangelicals with the 'unfettered [obscene?] capitalism' label...but was personally unaware that it applied -actually - to lots of them.
If so they join the Calvinists, the Mormons, the Confucianists and probably lots others who've draped & masqued their greed in theology.

What I really wanted to say was just "nice post"....but I'm blabby.

Posted by: has_te at November 5, 2006 11:23 AM

November 05, 2006

Ted Haggard's letter to New Life Church

The following letter from Ted Haggard, former senior pastor of New Life Church, was read to the congregation this morning at the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. services.

To my New Life Church family:

I am so sorry. I am sorry for the disappointment, the betrayal, and the hurt. I am sorry for the horrible example I have set for you.

I have an overwhelming, all-consuming sadness in my heart for the pain that you and I and my family have experienced over the past few days. I am so sorry for the circumstances that have caused shame and embarrassment to all of you.

I asked that this note be read to you this morning so I could clarify

my heart's condition to you. The last four days have been so difficult for me, my family and all of you, and I have further confused the situation with some of the things I've said during interviews with reporters who would catch me coming or going from my home. But I alone am responsible for the confusion caused by my inconsistent statements. The fact is, I am guilty of sexual immorality, and I take responsibility for the entire problem.

I am a deceiver and a liar. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I've been warring against it all of my adult life.

For extended periods of time, I would enjoy victory and rejoice in freedom. Then, from time to time, the dirt that I thought was gone would resurface, and I would find myself thinking thoughts and experiencing desires that were contrary to everything I believe and teach.

Through the years, I've sought assistance in a variety of ways, with none of them proving to be effective in me. Then, because of pride, I began deceiving those I love the most because I didn't want to hurt or disappoint them.

The public person I was wasn't a lie; it was just incomplete. When I stopped communicating about my problems, the darkness increased and finally dominated me. As a result, I did things that were contrary to everything I believe.

The accusations that have been leveled against me are not all true, but enough of them are true that I have been appropriately and lovingly removed from ministry. Our church's overseers have required me to submit to the oversight of Dr. James Dobson, Pastor Jack Hayford, and Pastor Tommy Barnett. Those men will perform a thorough analysis of my mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical life. They will guide me through a program with the goal of healing and restoration for my life, my marriage, and my family.

I created this entire situation. The things that I did opened the door for additional allegations . But I am responsible; I alone need to be disciplined and corrected. An example must be set.

It is important that you know how much I love and appreciate my wife, Gayle. What I did should never reflect in a negative way on her relationship with me. She has been and continues to be incredible. The problem is not with her, my children or any of you. It was created 100 percent by me.

I have been permanently removed from the office of Senior Pastor of New Life Church. Until a new senior pastor is chosen, our Associate Senior Pastor Ross Parsley will assume all of the the responsibilities of the office. On the day he accepted this new role, he and his wife, Aimee, had a new baby boy. A new life in the midst of this circumstance - I consider the confluence of events to be prophetic. Please commit to join with Pastor Ross and the others in church leadership to make their service to you easy and without burden. They are fine leaders. You are blessed.

I appreciate your loving and forgiving nature, and I humbly ask you to do a few things.

1.) Please stay faithful to God through service and giving.

2.) Please forgive me. I am so embarrassed and ashamed. I caused this and I have no excuse. I am a sinner. I have fallen. I desperately need to be forgiven and healed.

3.) Please forgive my accuser. He is revealing the deception and sensuality that was in my life. Those sins, and others, need to be dealt with harshly. So, forgive him and, actually, thank God for him. I am trusting that his action will make me, my wife and family, and ultimately all of you, stronger. He didn't violate you; I did.

4.) Please stay faithful to each other. Perform your functions well. Encourage each other and rejoice in God's faithfulness. Our church body is a beautiful body, and like every family, our strength is tested and proven in the midst of adversity. Because of the negative publicity I've created with my foolishness, we can now demonstrate to the world how our sick and wounded can be healed, and how even disappointed and betrayed church bodies can prosper and rejoice.

Gayle and I need to be gone for a while. We will never return to a leadership role at New Life Church. In our hearts, we will always be members of this body. We love you as our family. I know this situation will put you to the test. I'm sorry I've created the test, but please rise to this challenge and demonstate the incredible grace that is available to all of us.

Ted Haggard

Posted by: Jack at November 5, 2006 12:07 PM

From Ted's letter (posted):

I am a deceiver and a liar. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I've been warring against it all of my adult life.

Exactly why I hate it when these guys get into a position of power. Often many, many people will be hurt and then it's: "Sorry, my bad. Forgive me yall."

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