Haggard ‘n Swaggart
This sounds like the basis of a sitcom more than real life. You would think that the experiences of a hugely public figure like Jimmy Swaggart in the area of “sexual misconduct*” would serve as a good reminder/caution to all the other really big, multinational religious leaders out there.
This past Thursday, November 2, 2006, former male prostitute Mike Jones (no, not the rapper) reported that he had sexual relations with Haggard, who he knew only as Art. As it turns out Ted Haggard’s (here’s the wiki on him) middle name is Arthor. Initially, Haggard denied all of Jones’ claims in both TV and radio interviews. It was already known that he had voluntarily stepped down as the head of New Life Church(NLC) in Colorado Springs, but up until that point, he was still the president of National Association of Evangelicals (NAE).
Friday, November 3, 2006, Ted Haggard admitted to church board members in Colorado Springs that some of the allegations were true. Upon learning this, board members decided to call for his resignation as Senior Pastor of NLC. The same day, NAE officials accepted a resignation letter from Haggard “with regret”. New Life Church has issued this statement regarding the recent allegations about Haggard, and the new direction of the church.
To me, this is all really unfortunate and could’ve (read: should’ve) been avoided. Let’s face it, every person in the public eye, religious leader or not, can’t sneeze without the world knowing about it. When Brad and Jennifer broke up, E! had a story on it just a few hours later. When Bill Clinton had his fling with Monica, the senate impeached him. (Now, I must say that getting a blowjob somehow doesn’t seem as much as an impeachable offense as lying about a country’s possession of WMD’s…but that’s another entry.) Even Jimmy Swaggert will tell you that as a minister, or even as just a law-abiding citizen, being with a prostitute really shouldn’t be on your “Things I wanna do before I die” list.
Also in this story that I failed to mention in the mini-me report above was the fact that T. Haggard admitted to buying crystal meth from Mike Jones. Of course, Haggard says he didn’t use the drug, but that he threw it away. Now, I’m not a druggie, and I’m not sure what the going rate is for a hit of krank is, but I know enough to know that it’s not cheap, and one does not buy it to simply have the satisfaction of “throw[ing] it away”.
There is hope, though, for Haggard. Swaggert, after all, has restarted his ministry, although it has nothing near the size or scope of his former ministry. I expect the same thing to happen with Haggard. My experience with ministers who fail and do so horribly and very publicly (whether that “public” be national, state, or local), there will remain those who are loyal to the bitter end. For good or naught, Haggard will have a following after all of this is said and done. What remains to be seen is how big that following will be, and will it be enough for him to make a comeback, as it were.
Time will tell