In a live radio interview Friday, embattled Evangelical preacher Ted Haggard said he would welcome members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community into his new church in Colorado Springs.
Listen to the full interview using the player below (the part where he says he'd welcome the GLBT community takes up the last two minutes -- see below for a transcript):
The former leader of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs and the National Association of Evangelicals was a guest on KKZN AM 760 -- for which I was filling in as host -- to discuss the recent news surrounding his new church and his recent Twitter comments in which he predicts an end to the Religious Right:
"I believe we are at the end of what church historians will, in the future, call the Billy Graham era."
"I believe we are also nearing the end of the 'Religious Right' representing Evangelicalism."
Haggard also spoke about his tweets critical of the judgmental nature of today's evangelical churches:
"THE GREAT DECEPTION: On the outside of our building, we say we are a hospital, but when people get inside, they see it's a courthouse."
"Could it be that those who don't attend our churches are more insightful than those who do? Maybe they should reach us?"
"I thank God he forgives me, saves me, redeems me, fills me, and loves me. I thank God he doesn't do it the way most churches do."
In light of Haggard's call for a more open and less judgmental church, I asked him whether he would welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered individuals into his new church, the St. James Church, which recently began holding Sunday services in the Haggard family's barn in Colorado Springs. Here's what he had to say (my emphasis added in bold):
ME: We only got like another minute here. I'm really sorry we don't have more time because I find this absolutely fascinating. I actually really do appreciate you coming on to explain a lot of this. I guess the one final thing I'd want to ask is, do you consider homosexuality a sin? I mean, you're talking about who is the courthouse, obviously you're talking about scripture; I'm assuming you're referring to parts of scripture that suggest that homosexuality is a sin. I mean, is that where you stand? Or would you take a parishioner who was openly gay?
HAGGARD: If you review the list in the New Testament you come to the conclusion that everybody's a sinner. Gay, straight, bi, Republican, Democrat, nice little lady at the grocery store, priest, preacher -- everybody's a sinner, everybody needs redemption, everybody needs God to bless them. Everybody needs that, and where we go wrong is when we in society start to say, this one group is a particular problem, rather than say all of us are in equal need of God's love.
ME: So, would you, I mean again not to press so hard, would you welcome gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered people. I mean if they're, if everyone's a sinner, would they be welcomed at the St. Jame's Church?
HAGGARD: Absolutely. And so would conservative Republicans, so would priests, so would pastors.
HAGGARD: See, here's the point -- you can have a pious person sitting in a prayer closet praying, and if they have self-righteousness in their heart they're a sinner, too, in need of redemption. Everybody needs God. That's my point. Equally, equally -- there's no good guy, bad guy.
ME: I think that this is very interesting to hear and I hope we can stay in touch and follow what's happening there. But again, thank you so much for coming on and we will be in touch in the future.
HAGGARD: Great, thank you so much.