Haggard Resigns From NAE After Gay Sex Allegations

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c. 2006 Religion News Service

(UNDATED) The Rev. Ted Haggard resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals on Thursday (Nov. 2) after a Colorado man said he had carried on a three-year paid sexual relationship with Haggard.

Haggard also placed himself on temporary administrative leave as pastor of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs to seek “spiritual advice and guidance.”

In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Haggard said he “could not continue to minister under the cloud created by the accusations made on Denver talk radio.”

Haggard, 50, did not deny or confirm the allegations that erupted late Wednesday when male escort Mike Jones told Denver’s KUSA-TV that Haggard had paid him for sex for the last three years.

“I am voluntarily stepping aside from leadership so that the overseer process can be allowed to proceed with integrity,” Haggard said. “I hope to be able to discuss this matter in more detail at a later date. In the interim, I will seek both spiritual advice and guidance.”

Haggard had earlier told the TV station that “I’ve never had a gay relationship with anybody and I’m steady with my wife, I’m faithful to my wife.” He speculated the charges could be motivated by “election-year politics.”

Jones, who has told the Associated Press he has proof of the long-running affair, had told the TV station that “People may look at me and what I’ve done as immoral, but I think I had to do the moral thing in my mind and that is expose someone who is preaching one thing but doing the opposite behind everybody’s back.”

Haggard’s resignation from the NAE was a stunning turn of events for a man who has become an evangelical power broker and once bragged about sitting in on weekly conference calls with the White House.

Haggard has served as president of the 30 million-member umbrella group of evangelical churches since March 2003.

The NAE’s vice president for governmental affairs, the Rev. Richard Cizik, said the “allegations don’t comport with what I know about the man.”

Cizik said the NAE’s executive committee would meet Friday to map out the future.

“In our over 60 years (of history), we’ve never had a scintilla of scandal,” Cizik said. “It’s my expectation that that record of … speaking for and standing on behalf of biblical authority and behavior will be upheld.”

Earlier Thursday, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson had voiced support for Haggard, saying it was “unconscionable that the legitimate news media would report a rumor like this based on nothing but one man’s accusation.”

In the interim, Haggard’s church will be led by Associate Senior Pastor Ross Parsley. Four pastors from other congregations _ one from Louisiana and three from Colorado _ will conduct an investigation. The statement from Haggard’s church said they hold the power to “discipline the senior pastor, to remove him from his position or to restore him to ministry.”

KRE/PH END BANKS

Editors: To obtain file photos of Haggard, go to the RNS Web site at https://religionnews.com. On the lower right, click on “photos,” then search by subject or slug.

This is a reworked version of a story that originally appeared in RNS-DIGEST-NOV02.

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