Thursday, November 02, 2006

Top evangelical in gay scandal?

Now here is breaking news. At least breaking as I write about it. The National Association of Evangelicals is the a collection of fundamentalist type denominations and churches. The head of that organization was Pastor Ted Haggard. Note I put that in the past tense.

Haggard resigned his position. He was also the pastor of a 14,000 member fundamentalist church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He also stepped down from that position.

A male prostitute has stated that Haggard had a three year gay relationship with the man. Haggard has denied the relationship.

The prostitute said he came forward because Haggard was saying one thing and doing another.

The former prostitute says he has a voice mail recording of Haggard. He also had an envelope mailed to him from Colorado Springs in which he says a payment of $200 in cash was received. And he says he is willing to take a lie detector test.

Fellow leaders of the antigay Religious Right came to Haggard’s defence. And his church is going to have an “impartial” investigation which will be led by fellow fundamentalists. That would be like having the Watergate break-in investigated by the Republican Party. The prostitute said that Haggard had told him that his fantasy would be a group of “young college guys.... around 18-22. He would love to have an orgy.”

Now as I see here are the possibilities:

Haggard had the affair and it will be proved.
Haggard did not have the affair but it will look like he did.
Haggard had the affair and will get away with it.
Haggard did not have the affair and will be exonerated.

Assume for a moment he did it. I don’t feel any happiness over his problems. I confess he brought them on himself, if the claims are true. But gay men within evangelical churches are prisoners of their own beliefs. They believe it is evil to be gay but they remain gay. They tell themselves that “change is possible” but the evidence for change is very scarce indeed. They say it is a choice but countless members of their own churches fight every day knowing full well it is not a choice. That sort of belief system encourages lying and dishonesty. It encourages men to marry even though they know inside their hearts they are gay. Too often this leads to heartbreak for the women who become unwilling victims in the church’s antigay theology. What I do know is that even if this story does not fit the case for Mr. Haggard it does fit the case of hundreds of other fundamentalist ministers and tens of thousands of the members of their congregations.

Many years ago I knew a very conservative candidate for political office. He was a friend of mine and I worked in his campaign (although I would not do so for a similar candidate today). He was a single man who lived alone. And when I was asked to work for his campaign he offered for me to stay at his home. Another young man, a prominent conservative youth leader of the day, also came to work for him. The candidate was also a member of the largest fundamentalist church in his city and this was a big church.

I was fairly naive and young but even I found it odd that this youth leader and the candidate shared a bed every night. It became obvious to me that there was more to their relationship than either of them was willing or able to admit. In fact if either of them said a word about it they would have been finished. I left to return to home after the election but stayed in touch with the candidate. As I said he was a friend and I don’t leave friends lightly. One day I get a call from the radio station asking to interview me. The candidate had committed suicide. I can’t say I was shocked. And I always thought it had something to do with the shared bed and shared secrets. Could I prove it? No. But I saw enough to convince myself this was the case.

This is the tragedy that is inherent in the self-hating ideas of fundamentalism.

Certainly deceit and lying is not difficult when your religion demands you pretend to be something you are not. So it is plausible that Haggard had this relationship. But even if he did not as I write countless other fundamentalists are in that position. They are tormented by a belief that they can not be who they are yet they are unable to be anyone else. So even if this is true I can’t help but feel sorry for the man.

Reality is as reality is. Pretending and fantasizing another reality based on some holy book won’t make it so. So much of fundamentalism is evil because it is at war with reality. It can’t accept facts. It has to believe that the lie is the truth and the truth is a lie because that is they way their book tells them it is.

I also consider that Haggard may not have had this affair. In that case he suffered by accusation made. But the accusation itself had little power behind it. The true suffering came, not from the accusation, but from what his fellow Christians will believe, if the accusation is true. What I mean is this. If someone says I’m a member of the Rotary Club it means nothing important even if it is true. True or false it changes nothing about me. I don’t suffer from the claim because no one cares. But the fundamentalist believes awful things about homosexuals. So to say someone is gay brings them into disrepute because of the things which these people believe. What gives these accusations the power to harm Haggard are the very things he has been preaching about homosexuals all along.

Imagine a world of liberals and libertarians. Just assume for a second everyone thought that way. This former prostitute gets up and says Haggard had an affair with him. In a world of liberals and libertarians no one would care. It would have no ability to harm Haggard at all. The pain that is inflicted comes because people believe the things about homosexuals which Haggard and his friends preach. The sting in these accusations is, in that sense, self inflicted.


Blogger aaronjasonsilver said...


In the wake of all of the recent sex scandals in the past couple of years in Washington and elsewhere in the news that often get lost when the scandals involve politicians. I believe that the "closet" needs to be mentioned and understood. I believe it will provide the necessary context from which to view some of these scandals. The closet, meaning where people hide their sexual orientation, whether one is a man or woman but particularly I am speaking of men at this time because I believe men use the closet even more often than woman because of societies very narrow view and expectations of what behaviors are considered appropriate for men. Woman can be Tomboys much easier than men can be sissies. Of course not all gay men are effeminate by a long shot but that is a stereotypical image of gay men and therefore many men attempt to cover up any behaviors they may have and believe may bring on suspicion. Therefore men, whether they be gay or straight, will practice stereotypical masculine behaviors to thwart any suspicion often out of fear and necessity, particularly if they feel pressure to do so to protect their careers or career advancement. However, many gay men for a variety of reasons whether they have difficulties reconciling their religious views with their natural inner feelings and same sex attractions or also may do so out of fear of social denunciation. These men will then join the astounding numbers of men that are also hiding in the closet.

The fear of being discovered can be enormous and absolutely terrifying. These men will often then do what they believe society expects from them. They will often marry and have children perhaps out of desperation in an always unsuccessful attempt at trying to make these natural longings go away and try and hide these powerful feelings of attraction that we all know very well and have experienced ourselves whether toward the same sex or the opposite sex, its all the same. They may also marry and have homosexual secret liaisons with men and feel terrible guilt in doing so. They will do their very best to compartmentalize their lives the best that they can, but I believe and have found that the longer one stays in the closet the more damage is done to them emotionally. It is very difficult to compartmentalize for a long period of time these very powerful feelings without developing some emotional problems to varying degrees. Also many develop coping mechanisms such as addictive behaviors of all sorts whether they be alcoholism, prescription or non prescription abuse. They may develop addictions to pornography sexual addiction or other self-destructive ways of acting out. Once again unfortunately the longer one stays in the closet there will also then be more victims because of their closeted lifestyle choice. The victims may be their wives and children, their friends, parents and siblings, all feeling like they have been betrayed if their true nature is discovered as it was for ex-governor of New Jersey, Mr. McGreevy. I feel very sad for the victims as well as I very much understand the sadness and despair he and many others feel once the closet door is flung open. For some, the shame is just too unbearable and suicide seems like the only alternative to ending their pain and shame.

Society needs to take some responsibility with this matter of the closet by being more accepting of alternative lifestyles. Without the closet just think of how much less pain many people and families would have to endure. Not only the ones that feel that living in the closet is their only alternative but for the victims that find themselves feeling betrayed and the breaking up of families. We as a culture have some soul searching to do on this matter and not be so self-involved and self-righteous. There are a variety of ways of loving and living. We need to accept that what seems to be normal for some is not necessarily normal for all. With what I have just said in no way excuses adult men from making wrong choices that victimize others such as the irresponsible behaviors demonstrated by the now ex-congressmen Foley. I'm not even going to go so far as to say his closet behaviors are the reason for his conduct. I don't know. I don't know him. However, as I said the closet can cause deep and very troubling emotional problems that can manifest in abhorrent behaviors. This may or may not be the cause of his behaviors. However one thing I do know is that he does know what's right and wrong and as he surely knew, his attractions to under aged teens is not only illegal but inappropriate an attraction and should have sought therapy before creating victims. However, because there is still so much shame yet in this day and age and our rather hypocritical puritanical society, cause many gays to not seek help concerning issues they may be struggling with from the appropriate professionals. I generally do not recommend clergy because it can cause further damage do to their religious agendas which can deepen one's shame and depression. The is a very complicated issue that society has to become more compassionate about or we will continue to shame gays enough and inhibit their comfort level preventing them from seeking the appropriate help for any specific personal issues in which they may be struggling with.

One can read more about this issue and many other disturbing issues involving gay culture of today in my new book; "why gay men do what they do", an inside look at gay culture.

November 08, 2006

Blogger GodlessZone said...

While I agree with the bulk of your sentiments I would like to point out that we try to keep comments relatively short and to one topic. I request that from everyone even if I basically agree with the sentiments.

Where I disagree is when you say: Society needs to take some responsibility with this matter of the closet by being more accepting of alternative lifestyles." First, society is a concept used to describe the sum of all individual actions. Society as such as no will or ability to take responsibility. Too often this phrase is used so that individuals can avoid their responsibility. For instance when people say society should care for the poor what they mean is that the state should take money from other people on behalf of the poor -- they themselves don't want to actually take any responsibility. Individuals have to change the way they treat other people. I agree. We need to respect each other's rights including the right to be left alone. I also cringe at the term "alternative lifestyle". Homosexuality is not a "lifestyle", alternative or otherwise. It is a sexual orientation and how gay people live is as diverse as how straight people live. Lifestyle implies voluntary choice like deciding whether to wear shoes or sandals. It is a horrible term and is latched onto by the bigots in their campaign to try and prove that being gay is a choice and one can choose to be straight just as easily.

November 08, 2006


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