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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Ted Haggard’s escalating dark side

By JEAN TORKELSON Ted Haggard's "dark side" apparently spread farther than anybody thought. "Numerous individuals" -- some of them later described as young male staffers -- have outlined what church leaders call a pattern of improper and even "sordid" behavior by the founder and former chief pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo. Haggard's former flock learned of the findings Sunday during two morning services, when the overseers of the church read a letter to filled auditoriums.


Ted Haggard’s “dark side” apparently spread farther than anybody thought.

“Numerous individuals” — some of them later described as young male staffers — have outlined what church leaders call a pattern of improper and even “sordid” behavior by the founder and former chief pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Haggard’s former flock learned of the findings Sunday during two morning services, when the overseers of the church read a letter to filled auditoriums.

“We have verified the reality of (Haggard’s) struggle through numerous individuals who reported to us firsthand knowledge of everything from sordid conversation to overt suggestions to improper activities to improper relationships,” the Rev. Larry Stockstill told the congregation.

The presentation, by the head of the church’s board of overseers, was the first comprehensive update since Haggard admitted last November to methamphetamine purchases and “sexual impropriety” involving a male prostitute, Mike Jones.

Among the findings:

  • The letter implied it was fortunate that Haggard was caught when he was. After reviewing the confidential details, church leaders believe that removing Haggard “was not only warranted, but also merciful to him and to the church.”
  • The church’s board of trustees has “fairly and compassionately” decided to financially support the Haggard family through 2007.

It was previously announced that Haggard and his wife Gayle will relocate to another state to continue therapy and pursue psychology degrees.

“Ted will need years of accountability to demonstrate his victory over both actions and tendencies,” the letter said.

During the inquiry, young men working for the church came forward to describe what overseer Mike Ware, pastor of Victory Church in Westminster, Colo., characterized as “loose language, coarse jesting and inappropriate jokes that Ted made.”

While staff members found the behavior odd, no one put the pieces of the puzzle together.

“If (the conduct) had been overt,” Ware said, “we would have been addressing this long before Mike Jones.”

Another overseer, the Rev. Tim Ralph of New Covenant Fellowship in Larkspur, Colo., said he was “misquoted” recently as saying Haggard was “completely heterosexual.” He said he meant to say that therapy “gave Ted the tools to help to embrace his heterosexual side.”

Church members interviewed accepted the letter’s call for compassion. When it comes to understanding Haggard, said John Simmonds, “There are lots of empty spaces, but I’m not trying to fill them in. Honor Pastor Ted as a man and leave it at that.”

(Contact Jean Torkelson of the Rocky Mountain News at

20 thoughts on “Ted Haggard’s escalating dark side”

  1. Evangelicals and christians in general tend to be so obsessed with sex, gender and genitals to the point that you would think that morality = sex and nothing more. Why I suppose in an evangelical’s mind a heterosexual drug dealer is ‘morally’ superior to a gay philanthropist. Christians in general are guilty of being self righteous and are constantly pretending to ‘love the sinner but hate the sin ‘ as if they can really do that -hah.!!!

    May I remind them that the oft repeated mantra of the modern pharasees ‘ love the sinner but not the sin’ is not a quote from Jesus , but a glib semantic invention of some self righteous baptist minister.

    Careful scholars of biblical texts who are familiar with the intricacies of ancient oriental languages are wont to not read their bias into isolated quotations.

    Jesus had no problems with gays ( natural eunuchs born of the mother’s womb). If you are anti-gay or condemnatory of gay people than you are out of sync with Jesus.

    This is what Jesus said:

    KJV Matthew 19:12

    12. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

    No less an authority than Jesus said it is o.k. to be gay, and for you to accept it. Who do you wish to follow – Jesus (of Nazareth) or Jerry (Falwell).

    For more detail discussion of this biblical position on the acceptance of gay people by no less an authority than JESUS – THE SON OF GOD , I refer you to this link :

    Mikhail – a child of the intelligent Universe

  2. I’ve known pastor Ted for quite a number of years. So do my 22 year old son and 20 yhear old daughter, who are part of an intensive leadership program there called 24-7. And so does my brother, a professional whose family has sporadically atteneded New Life Church from the days when they were first meeting in Ted’s basement.

    That said, it’s worth noting that throughout the past three years which Mike Jones identifies as the period during which Ted would slip off for some “banned list” R&R, he was still the same warm, caring, compassionate, friendly, fun, funny, generous, insightful Christian leader that he’s always been.

    Admittedly, Ted has (had) a drawing to experience something on the dark side– something that promised excitement, forbidden fruit, etc.

    Are there any men, I wonder, who are not at all tempted to give in to some form of what they consider to be the darkd side — whether drinking, smoking dope, heterosexual massage, lap dances, including ones with “hands on action”, pornography through DVDs, Cable channels, magazines, the Internet, etc. etc etc etc.

    It so happens that somewhere in Ted’s past, someone turned him on to gay sex (a very powerful temptation for many) and hyping up its pleasure levels with meth. It became something that he could be away from, and throw himself into doing good, and his work, and his congregation, etc. but still that drawing to come back for that one more explosive experience is always there.

    And the worst thing that can happen to you in a situation like that is to have a truly mind-blowing experience, since it will act as an internal magnet always wanting to pull your toward another experience.

    I just got back from Hong Kong, where heterosexual massage parlors are blinking their neon signs on almost every downtown street. Relatively cheap, too, for girls brought over from China who want more to life than the few dollars a day that is their lot in Mainland china.

    I was over their for business, and I have a loving wife and 5 kids. I could easily have succummed to the temptation of immediate gratificatrion sex for the equivalent of $13-20 USdollars.

    That doesn’t mean that all the good things I’ve done in my life are worthless. IT doesn’t mean I’ve lived my life as a hypocrite. IT just means that I’m a male, and there is a whole sex industry out there trying to make me compromise. If I do, I feel guilty and then try to reaffirm my committment to what is good and right — my family, my work, my own spiritual growth, my Lord Jesus.

    That’s what the blood of Jesus is for. We have to use it all the time, whenever we fall short of God’s ideal situation, and receive his forgiveness and then try to gain victory over that temptation so it doesn’t overpower me again. But if it does, again, that’s what Jesus blood and forgives paid for. And hopefully, eventually, I’ll enter into 100% victory over those kinds of temptations. But even if I do, I’m still that same sinner saved by grace that I was when I was failingto give in.

    Sometimes a Christian leader will just “give up trying to get victory” over a besetting, recurring sin. For years he’s had occassions, maybe once a monthlike Ted, where he’s giving in to it. But one day, he just stops trying to fight those urges, and insteads decides to embrace them as an ongoing part of his lifestyle.

    At that moment, God may choose to step in and expose the sin and hypocrisy and corruption – but not to have people mock and ridicule (and they will) but so that he can realize he can’t get that victory alone and he needs the help of family and friends and professionals to get free. Just like an alchoholic or a drug addict.

  3. Lucy,

    I grew up in a religious environment, groomed to become a pastor like my adoptive father. All my views regarding life and faith were implanted by my family and social environment.

    But as an adult, I began to question the very foundation of religion. While those around me labeled non-believers as arrogant – the nerve to think there wasn’t a God overseeing everything, I began to see those within my congregation as arrogant themselves. Isn’t it arrogant to think that a God would take the time to answer the prayers of a Christian asking for the mortgage process on his new house to go smoothly, then turn around and ignore, says, those children in Sudan who are being brutally murdered in front of their parents?

    As you can imagine, the questioning only escalated… all while maintaining a front – I was mortified. When I finally decided that, no, there is no God, I was relieved – there’s nothing wrong with me.

    I also realized that some people do need religion – their fear of death is too strong and need to believe that there is something beyond death. Others need a moral foundation… were it not for religion and their belief that a God is watching their every move, who knows what they’d do.

    I’m a leader of a church, and provide a service not unlike the executive management services I provide to the company I work for. Some might call me a hypocrite, but the people at my church still need a leader. If not me, then someone else will do, and that someone else might be another Haggard.

    P.S. I strongly discourage a fundamentalist stand when it comes to religion. Also, please watch “Jesus Camp”

  4. Why is it that as soon as someone makes a bad choice everyone is quick to point and laugh? Regardless of religion, race, social or economic status we should all be respectful.

    I can see how this event causes people to loose faith or hold resentment towards “ted” or “pastors” in general, but what about that doctor that screwed you for all that insurance money by prescribing pill after pill? Is he not as bad? He made you think he would cure you and all he did was make money selling prescription drugs to you.

    We’re too quick to shun people when we don’t have any morals ourselves. There are basic moral principals that we should be more aware of other than being destructive to people all the time.

    I’m not one to say lets hug and sing peace dude. That’s unrealistic, but let’s take a personal moral inventory before we go throwing spears at others.

  5. NoGod, I want to know more about you! You’re apastor who doesn’t believe in God? How does this work? I’m a nonbeliever myself, but I never was a pastor! I am fascinated.

  6. Can we accept once, and for all time, that regardless of the robes they wear or the crap they spew, these phonies are nothing but con men and the ones who actually believe the crap they are spewing are at best ignoramusses. It follows that no good can possibly come from that whatever their sexual proclivities may be.

  7. Faith, in essence, is a call to relinquish all manners of thought, which makes sense if you’re seeking to manipulate entire congregations.

    It doesn’t matter how many times religious leaders from all denominations get caught engaging in the very activities they condemn, followers of religion will say, “Oh, our would never do that! Our leader is different.”

    I’m a pastor myself, and I have to tell you, I don’t believe there is a God. But if you ask one of my church members, he’d glorify my name, telling you he/she has never met anyone so committed to the gospel. I provide a needed service as some people are terrified of their mortality and wish to believe that there is something beyond their corporeal existence. I don’t think I’d have the heart to betray them the way people like Haggard has, but then again, I’m not religious – perhaps if I was, I’d walk the same path.

  8. Fairy Tales can come true, it can happen to you…etc.

    Aesop’s fables teach morality without offering punishment. The Santa Claus fable teaches morality using the witholding of rewards. Christianity demands morality using ETERNAL punismnet.

    I am planning to worship Aesop.

    Ancestor Worship respects and honors the morality of the ancestors of the individual. Homosexuals do not leave descendants to worship them. I plan to continue worshipping my ancestors.

    Jesus is not an ancestor.

  9. These people have made millions obsessing about homosexuality.Their hypocrocy knows no bounds.The simple minded people who swallow this crap and send them money so they can continue to spew their hate and lies are the victims as well.They are so brainwashed that you can not tell them anything different.My only hope is that they will learn something of value from this fiasco.

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