There's really only one story here in Colorado at the moment....
UPDATES: Haggard has admitted that some of the allegations are true. Channel 9 News has a voice expert ID the accusers voicemail messages allegedly from Haggard with recorded interviews and says 12 words are exact matches and the tapes seem to indicate it's the same guy.
But to make things more confusing, the accuser just failed a voluntary polygraph on Peter Boyles Radio Show.
The president of The National Association of Evangelicals and founding pastor of the 14,000 member New Life Church, Ted Haggard, has been accused of having a relationship with a 49 year-old gay male escort for the last three years.
Given the timing, it sure does smell like a smear especially with a gay marriage amendment on the ballot here in Colorado. But.... Pastor Ted has "temporarily" resigned from his posts both at the NAE and at New Life Church. While this is not a guilty plea, it doesn't look good.
New Life Church also cancelled a rally in support of Pastor Ted organized by another Colorado Springs pastor slated for this afternoon. That doesn't look good either.
The escort in question, a Mr. Mike Jones, claims he has recorded voicemail messages from Haggard and a letter from him containing $200.00 in cash. The evidence hasn't been released yet.
Here's the thing about Haggard: while he does support the anti-gay marriage amendment he's not as strident in his rhetoric about gays as so many other figures on the Christian right. For example, Haggard was in support of the 2003 Supreme Court decision to overturn the sodomy laws. He's also said that he wouldn't advocate positions that would make it harder for people to get health insurance or visit their partners in the hospital.
Based on the scant evidence that's been released, my thinking is this: If you're perpetrating a fictional smear, why not go after a fervently anti-gay figure? There's no shortage to choose from in this state. Why choose a Pastor who, however well known, isn't really as bad as Gary Bauer, James Dobson, Rick Santorum, etc... I mean, if you're going to lie you've got your choice of targets. Why this one?
I know some might think that if you're supporting an anti-gay marriage amendment that you're 100 percent bigoted and that's probably true to a limited degree, but check out an earlier post I wrote on this as well as a few more quotes from the man himself:
Here's Haggard in the Colorado Springs Independent:
"If the state wants to provide people who are in a different type of relationship the same benefits as marriage, that's up to the community," he says. "As a Christian, I would be hesitant to do anything that would deny people medical insurance or the ability to visit their partner in a hospital."
"We believe within the church that sexuality should be only between a married man and a woman," Haggard says. "But there are many things that I teach in the church that I would never want integrated into civil law."
Like I said, the news is still breaking and while the escort of the moment has agreed to take a lie detector test, the voicemail messages and the letter are still under wraps.
If this is true, this is a. big. deal. Pastor Ted has become one of the go to guys for national media looking to take the pulse of the almighty evangelical voting block. Pastor Ted's church has been the subject of a Harper's piece, a Tom Brokaw segment and numerous other stories.
Stay tuned as this thing will either explode nationally or disintegrate in the next 24 hours...
(Hat tip to Colorado Confidential.)