November 2, 2006 by lonbud
The Company We Keep 2.0
Spotlight on Ted (no relation to Merle) Haggard. Founder of what is called today a mega-church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, The New Life Church. Head of the 30 million member National Evangelical Association, a position he abruptly resigned amid allegations to be discussed momentarily.
In addition to, or perhaps as a consequence of his leadership of the nation’s evangelically inclined citizenry, Mr. Haggard is one confidant among a presumably few enough number of President George W. Bush’s to warrant a weekly conference call. According to Lauren Sandler, the author of “Righteous: Dispatches From the Evangelical Youth Movement,” Mr. Haggard and Mr. Bush see eye-to-eye on just about everything but what truck to drive.
What are the odds that in the week before national elections, the nation’s (arguably) most influential evangelical Christian, a person who speaks for nearly half of the people who voted for Mr. Bush in 2004, would be identified by a male prostitute as a man who’d been paying him for sex on a monthly basis for three years?
Mr. Haggard has been among the nation’s most outspoken opponents of gay marriage and a leading champion of the President’s call for a constitutional amendment declaring marriage the province of one man and one woman. He denied the allegations, first aired on a Denver talk radio program on Wednesday, telling KUSA-TV, “Never had a gay relationship with anybody, and I’m steady with my wife, I’m faithful to my wife.”
Update: Colorado station KKTV reports today that a senior pastor at Mr. Haggard’s New Life Church, told reporters for the station the former church leader has “admitted to some indiscretions,” though not to all of the charges brought by the male prostitute. A church investigation of the allegations is ongoing.
Update #2: Mr. Haggard, according to a statement released today, has admitted he bought methamphetamines and received a massage from a gay prostitute but never took the drugs and never had sex with the man.
Haggard, who said initially that he’s never taken drugs and doesn’t even drink socially, now admits that he bought meth from the prositute because he was curious. “I bought it for myself but never used it,” the Associated Press quotes Haggard as saying. “I was tempted, but I never used it.”
Mr. Haggard was not quoted as saying “the dog ate my homework,” “the check’s in the mail,” “I promise I won’t come in your mouth,” or “I didn’t inhale.” He also apparently had no comment regarding his relationship with Jimmy Swaggart.