Mike Jones, 49, of Denver, made his allegations on the Peter Boyles show on KHOW 630 AM, saying he was compelled to come forward because he believes Haggard, an opponent of same-sex unions, is being hypocritical.
"After sitting back and contemplating this issue, the biggest reason 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, Jones told Boyles on air.
"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." (Rocky Mountain News, November 2, 2006)
Any person in the public eye can be accused in such a fashion. When this happens there is little the accused can do to overcome the doubt such reports cast. The accuser, Mike Jones, is a male prostitute who says that he recognized Haggard from seeing him on TV and says that he knew Haggard by another name. All that Haggard can do is say that this isn't true, while those who wish to see him twist in the wind celebrate.
I have never met the Rev. Haggard but, at this stage, I doubt the veracity of the accusation against him. There are several reasons for my doubt.
- The first is the nature of the accusation. It is vague and unsupported by any real evidence.
- Second is the context of the accusation. It comes just days before an important vote in Colorado regarding gay rights issues.
- Third is the response of the Rev. Haggard and his church. Haggard immediately submitted to the system that his congregation has set up for such an accusation and the church is pressing forward with an investigation.
I have, sadly, had experience regarding pastors and moral failure. The pastor immediately before me at the Kirk (my boss at the time) was caught in such a thing. I have, since then, done significant study of the issue and have even served as a consultant to congregations whose leaders have fallen morally. I have learned the following in such situations:
- If a pastor has fallen morally there will be evidence of more than one incident. A number of credible people come forward almost immediately.
- Such a guilty pastor immediately issues denials usually couched in blaming other people or claiming the incident to be a misconstrual of his "ministry."
- There is often corollary evidence of financial misdeeds.
- The guilty pastor has previously displayed narcissistic, even sociopathic behavior.
- No matter what the truth is, groups of people will side with the pastor or against him, even after overwhelming evidence convicting or clearing him.
I chose to write about this because I have received several gleeful emails from people who have formerly posted comments on this blog. I guess they think that, as goes one evangelical, so go all. There is nothing to rejoice about here. Haggard's church, regardless of the basis of the charge, is damaged and devastated. The National Association of Evangelicals has similar damage. The Church universal is hurt.
If Ted Haggard is guilty of the accusation he needs to be removed from his pastorate and surrounded by clear-minded, Godly people who will hold him accountable as he is restored to faith. My personal opinion is that, if he is guilty, he should find future employment outside the pastorate.
However, I don’t believe that there is enough evidence at this point to indicate that he is guilty. The nature of the accusation is singular, vague, unsupported, and politically expedient. I wish I could say that Haggard, if proven innocent, could just move on with his life. That, sadly, could never happen. He’ll be hounded and haunted by this from now on.
Keep praying—keep the faith,