Male Escort Reveals Sexual Liaisons with Evangelist Ted Haggard Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Ted Haggard, the founder and senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado, was disgraced after a male escort revealed on television that Haggard had sex with him over a three-year period. Haggard, asked by the church to leave his ministry and the Colorado Springs area, also resigned his leadership position with the influential National Association of Evangelicals. A church overseer claimed Haggard was “completely heterosexual” following three weeks of “restorative” therapy.

Summary of Event

Ted Haggard was the lead pastor of New Life Church, which boasted a membership of fourteen thousand people. He had founded the megachurch in 1984 in the basement of his home in Colorado Springs. Haggard also was the head of the thirty-million-member National Association of Evangelicals National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). In 2005, Time Time magazine;and Ted Haggard[Haggard] magazine named him as one of the top twenty-five most influential evangelicals in the United States. [kw]Sexual Liaisons with Evangelist Ted Haggard, Male Escort Reveals (Nov. 2, 2006) [kw]Haggard, Male Escort Reveals Sexual Liaisons with Evangelist Ted (Nov. 2, 2006) Evangelists;Ted Haggard[Haggard] Haggard, Ted Jones, Michael Ralph, Tim New Life Church Evangelists;Ted Haggard[Haggard] Haggard, Ted Jones, Michael Ralph, Tim New Life Church [g]United States;Nov. 2, 2006: Male Escort Reveals Sexual Liaisons with Evangelist Ted Haggard[03710] [c]Drugs;Nov. 2, 2006: Male Escort Reveals Sexual Liaisons with Evangelist Ted Haggard[03710] [c]Prostitution;Nov. 2, 2006: Male Escort Reveals Sexual Liaisons with Evangelist Ted Haggard[03710] [c]Religion;Nov. 2, 2006: Male Escort Reveals Sexual Liaisons with Evangelist Ted Haggard[03710] [c]Sex;Nov. 2, 2006: Male Escort Reveals Sexual Liaisons with Evangelist Ted Haggard[03710] [c]Social issues and reform;Nov. 2, 2006: Male Escort Reveals Sexual Liaisons with Evangelist Ted Haggard[03710]

Haggard also openly condemned homosexuality and preached against same-gender Marriage;and homosexuality[homosexuality] marriage, but he reportedly visited gay bars and invited gays to attend his church services. On November 2, 2006, Haggard was outed by a male escort, Michael Jones, who claimed that the popular pastor had paid him for sex and that the encounters occurred during a three-year period. Jones, who made his announcement on a Denver, Colorado, television station, also claimed that Haggard often used the drug crystal methamphetamine when they were together. He also said that Haggard had revealed sexual fantasies to him, one involving a group of young college men.

Michael Jones.

(AP/Wide World Photos)

Initially, Jones knew Haggard by the name Art (Haggard’s middle name is Arthur). After learning that Art was the well-known pastor Haggard, who railed against homosexuality and same-gender marriage, Jones decided to come forward about his sexual encounters with Haggard. He believed he should expose Haggard’s hypocrisy. Rumors had already been circulating in the gay community in Denver, Colorado, about Haggard’s sexuality. When first confronted with the gay-sex allegations, Haggard claimed he did not know Jones and denied having ever used drugs. A few days later, however, he admitted that he had purchased methamphetamine but never used the drug.

On November 4, 2006, the board of the New Life Church issued a statement from its membership, which had concluded that Haggard’s alleged actions constituted sexually immoral conduct. Drawing on church bylaws, the board reported that Haggard’s conduct compelled them to remove him from his job with the church. Attached to a severance package from the church was the stipulation that Haggard also leave the Colorado Springs area. Haggard already had tendered his resignation from the presidency of the NAE on November 2. The NAE reported that during its more than sixty years of existence, it had never had moral failure in its leadership.

Haggard issued a statement on November 5 that was read before his church by another pastor. Haggard admitted to having had gay sex but claimed it was a “dark” part of his life. He further expressed sorrow for his behavior and said he was “a deceiver and a liar.” He said the church board acted appropriately in removing him from his ministry and that the removal would be permanent.

A portrait of Ted Haggard in the prayer center on the campus of New Life Church near Colorado Springs, Colorado.

(AP/Wide World Photos)

Haggard also said in his statement that he had been “warring against” his sexual desires for his entire adult life. By all appearances he led a heterosexual life that included a marriage and children, a life choice not uncommon for those with same-gender sexual desires who also are deeply committed to their religion and who fear reprisal. Conservative churches in the United States, as elsewhere, speak harshly about same-gender sexuality and condemn it as immoral. They also severely punish sexual transgressors.

Impact

Haggard lost his ministry, church, and evangelical standing. In February, 2007, after three months of silence, he sent an e-mail message to friends, telling them he was moving from Colorado Springs with his wife, Gayle, and family to start a process of personal “restoration.” This process, which involved examining all aspects of his life, included counseling by a team of ministers who were appointed by the New Life Church. Haggard also entered a treatment center in Arizona. Tim Ralph, one of the team counselors, said that Haggard, after three weeks of therapy, was now “completely heterosexual” and that Haggard’s declaration of heterosexuality was supported by evidence. First, no other person had claimed Haggard engaged in gay sex, and second, gay sex was not a constant in Haggard’s life. Haggard’s accuser, Jones, responded to Ralph’s report by saying that he thought Haggard indeed was gay.

In August, Haggard released a statement that asked for monetary donations to help support his family while he and his wife attended college classes. He wanted to pursue a degree in counseling, and his wife was to study psychology. He also reported that his family was moving into the Dream Center, a halfway house based in Phoenix, Arizona, that ministers to recovering convicts, drug addicts, prostitutes, and others. Within days, however, the restoration team reported that Haggard would not be working at the Dream Center or in any ministry, and it advised Haggard to seek employment outside the church. Steering Haggard away from a return to ministry was based, in part, on Haggard’s high profile. The team cited biblical passages about the need to hold influential figures to a higher standard of behavior. Evangelists;Ted Haggard[Haggard] Haggard, Ted Jones, Michael Ralph, Tim New Life Church

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Banerjee, Neela. “Accused of Gay Liaison, Head of Evangelical Group Resigns.” The New York Times, November 3, 2006. News of Jones’s outing and Haggard’s resignation from the newspaper of record.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Goodstein, L. “Minister’s Own Rules Sealed His Fate.” The New York Times, November 19, 2006. Discusses the dismissal of Haggard from his church, a dismissal caused, in part, by Haggard’s own preaching.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">“Haggard’s Cure Claim Greeted by Skepticism.” Christian Century, March 6, 2007. Editorial that questions the legitimacy of Haggard’s claim that he had been “cured” and was now completely heterosexual after three weeks of therapy.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Ireland, J. “The Escort Who Spoke Out.” Advocate, December 5, 2006. Focuses on Haggard’s accuser, Jones, and how he decided to out Haggard. Jones says that he outed the pastor because of his hypocrisy.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Jones, Mike, with Sam Gallegos. I Had to Say Something: The Art of Ted Haggard’s Fall. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2007. Jones discusses the Haggard case, focusing on how Haggard’s hypocrisy urged him to out the pastor on a Denver television station.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Miller, Brett A. Divine Apology: The Discourse of Religious Image Restoration. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2002. Analyzes religious figures accused of sexual misconduct. Includes a section on fundamentalist Christian pastors and preachers.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">“Reviewing the Fundamentals.” Christianity Today, January, 2007. Focuses on the sex scandal in the context of the biblical teachings of the New Testament. Cites the book of James, which instructs that Christian leaders should be placed under strict standards of conduct.

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