A Real Live Luke 6:42 Moment for Evangelical Christianity

A conversation here in the Scalzi household this morning:

Krissy: So, what’s in the news?

Me: The head of the largest evangelical Christian organization in the United States is accused of having a three-year-long adulterous affair with a man whore.

(pause)

Krissy: I’m sorry. I probably shouldn’t be laughing.

Yes, well. Gobsmackingly ironic karmic retribution will do that to a person, won’t it. If these accusations are true (and apparently at least some of them are), then hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the absolute collapse of evangelical moral credibility. I mean, if you wanted the current set of evangelical marching orders to be cut off right at the knees, you couldn’t do much better than to have the married leader of 30 million evangelicals paying to have his pole smoked by another guy. On a monthly basis. For three years. I mean, Christ. Talk about intelligent design.

Mind you, I don’t expect this will stop evangelicals from warning all the rest of us of the dangers of homosexuality and same-sex marriage and how they threaten good old-fashioned morals and what not. But now the response to this can be “if it’s good enough for Ted Haggard, it’s good enough for me,” and that’s going to be a pretty effective rejoinder for a while, I think. Let’s recap: One of the most influential evangelical leaders in the country — a guy who gets on a conference call with the President of the United States every week — stands accused of being a drug-snorting adulterous whore-mongering sodomite. Which are all adjectives and nouns this fellow has apparently spent much of his career railing against. Now, we’re all human, and if you believe in the concept of sin, it’s pretty clear we all do it. But this fellow sure seems to be buying his sin in bulk.

How should those of us who are not evangelicals respond to the evangelical moral agenda? As ever, the Bible is a font of wisdom. Let’s read from the Book of Luke, chapter six:

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

There’s a great big evangelical eye beam right about now, I’d say. What will be interesting is whether the evangelicals see it. Because the rest of us can see it just fine.

And what of Ted Haggard? What should we think of him? And of the evangelicals who have recently built so much of their power in the despising of others? Back to Luke:

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

If that’s too much to ask, consider this variation: “Forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them more.”

Personally, while I’m pleased to be at least temporarily relieved of the fiction that evangelicals have greater moral credibility than the rest of us simply because they talk about Jesus in churches the size of sports arenas, I also hope that the evangelistic movement takes this moment to look inward and work on its core beliefs. From the outside, it looks like evangelistic core beliefs are about division, acquisition and exclusion, none of which strike me as particularly Christ-like (or for that matter particularly evangelical). I’m never going to be an evangelical Christian, but I like Jesus; he was a righteous dude. It would be nice to see more of Jesus in the loud and showy thing that is evangelical Christianity. I don’t expect it. It would still be nice to see.

In the meantime, of course, I’ll be happy to remind the folks who want to busy themselves with the morality of others in the name of Christ that they’ve got their own house to get in order first. Luke 6:42 is going to be awful handy for this, and I plan to use it. Of course, I’ll say it with love. That’s what Jesus would want.

Update, 3:07pm — The story now is that Haggard contacted the male escort for a “massage” but never had sex, and that he bought the meth but just kind of stared at it instead of using it. In other words, he didn’t inhale. Either time.

119 thoughts on “A Real Live Luke 6:42 Moment for Evangelical Christianity

  1. “I like Jesus; he was a righteous dude.”

    Heh.

    Sure seems like a lot of powerful people are actually horrifying scum. The sad part is, almost no decent person would want his job.

  2. As a Christian (moderate Methodist who drinks beer and screams the f-word when he steps on a Lego at 3 am,) I find the sanctimony of the far right and their millionaire televangelists an afront to my faith.

    It’ll be interesting to see if this guy does a public mea culpa ala Swaggart, or if he simply vanishes for a few years and then returns whack-a-mole style as a cult leader in Florida.

    Incidentally, we recently built a Habitat House with a group of ‘evangelicals’ and they were extremely nice and surprisingly moderate. Not sure if they are the same as ‘Evangelicals’ (with a capital E), or if they simply believe in a certain way that makes them generally more devout than your humble correspondent. Maybe someone can clarify.

    Anyway, good post, John, with good source references.

  3. You just won my “Hero Of The Day” award. Bravo.

    Totally linking to this, as you’ve just said everything that I wanted to say about the matter, and in a far more eloquent manner than I would have been capable of.

  4. Why do I have the feeling that Haggard will be transformed into some sort of victim of the supposed “gay agenda.”

    I agree though. People should worry more about their own lives and spend less time fixating on what’s going on in the bedrooms of their neighbors.

  5. Wouldn’t hurt to toss in Matthew 6:5-8, where Jesus suggests the whole concept of “church,” let alone mega-church, is downright un-Christian. The section says, basically: Pray, but keep it to yourself.

  6. I think Homer Simpson provides, as always, an apposite quote:

    “$14.95 for the Bible? What a preachy book! EVERYBODY’s a sinner! Except this guy…”

  7. Oh man. I kinda feel sorry for the guy: that must have been a very stressful and confusing way of living. But I did think of Mr Scalzi’s lovely pie when I read this, I’m afraid.

  8. I am SHOCKED, I repeat SHOCKED that this is your topic for the morning, sir. Who’dathunkit?

    The thing is that this just demonstrates, once again, that people like Hazzard have more in common with Ron Popiel than with Jesus. Except that Mr. Popiel is selling crap you might actually find useful. Hazzard’s been selling self-righteousness that he can’t back up in exchange for his big bucks.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got no problem with you if you model your life after Jesus or Bhudda or Deputy Dawg. Just please do the rest of us the favor of making it your PERSONAL journey and leaving us out of it unless we ask you for
    enlightenment.

    Oh, and “whack-a-mole style”….good one Scott.

  9. then hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the absolute collapse of evangelical moral credibility.

    If only that were true. Remember Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart and all the scandals of the late 80s and early 90s (the exposure of Peter Popoff by James Randi, Robert Tilton’s exposure by ABC PrimeTime Live among others)? It won’t make a bit of difference – one charlatan is exposed and another rises up to take his place…people that trust these “evangelists” will keep on doing so no matter what…

  10. Well, at least it won’t be alcohol rehab for him, I hear that place is filled to capacity anyway. Nope, it’ll be meth rehab. The rooms aren’t as nice but the food is better. He’ll enter right after this “spiritual retreat” (and ain’t *that* a good word for it).

  11. Critter42:

    There’s no doubt that evangelism is going to be around; the credibility collapse is regarding the influence it has outside its own sphere. Your average non-evangelical is less likely to find the evangelistic moral stance credible if evangelical leaders are acting hypocritically.

    Also, if I may say so, for better or worse, getting caught with a man is different than getting caught with a woman.

  12. Matt McIrvin:

    I’m not condemning anyone. I’m just reminding them what Jesus said about hypocrisy. Hopefully they will infer how it might relate to them.

  13. This makes Jimmy Swaggart’s problems seem almost quaint. What next? James Dobson caught fellating a mule?

    I suggested this morning that perhaps these right-wing nutjobs’ opposition to gay marriage is more to keep the population of gay men single so they have more to choose from…

  14. Thank you for posting this. My day cannot get better now. Even if it tried VERY hard. *bwahahahahaha*

    So, now its off to work, floating on a giant cloud of GRIN! Perfumed by a whiff of SCHADENFREUDE!

    Okay, I stop now. Writing, not grinning. :D

  15. I think so far Digby has said it best: I think we may be at a point at which it would be easier to assume that all the most virulent gay marriage opponents and staunch family values conservatives are in the closet. Then we can get past all this ridiculous posturing and deal with their true issues. As it is they are all playing them out in destructive, sublimated fashion in politics and it’s hurting a lot of people.

    To be fair, there are still some honest, good clergy. Here’s an example of about 20 Christian and Jewish leaders pushing to defeat an amendment to the Virginia Constitution, defining legal marriage: As Clergy from across Virginia, we oppose Ballot Question #1 and encourage people of faith in this Commonwealth to vote “no” on this amendment on November 7.

    We come from many different traditions, faiths and denominations, yet we all agree that Ballot Question #1 violates the call to justice and fairness that is a moral imperative shared by our faith traditions. Ballot Question #1, though called “the marriage amendmnent” by some, will not protect any marriages. It will cause undue hardship and harm to the families of unmarried couples in Virginia.

    As religious leaders, we affirm the dignity of all persons and value the welfare of all loving and committed families regardless of their legal status. This amendment undermines those principles. Even those of us who believe that the state should reserve legally sanctioned marriage for unions between a man and a woman agree that this amendment goes too far.

    To which all I can add is Amen.

  16. Before you gloat too much, consider how God sees ALL of us:

    But we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our righteousnesses [are] as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

    Isaiah 64:6

    It is no surpirse to me, a fundementalist evangelical Christian that men sin, even Pastors and Deacons. I am saddened by it, but does not diminish Jesus or his teachings that, we sinful men, do err and disobey God’s commands.

    One thing to keep in mind, though is that God is Faithful to forgive us. Though this man will have earthly consequences to his sinful deeds (loss of station/respect, loss of family, perhaps even legal actions against him), if he was truly saved by Grace thourgh faith, he can return to Spirit filled walk.

    Note, I am not defending him. All sin is wicked, and the sins of each man affect all those he touches directly, and many he touches indrectly (and no, this is not a bleeping double entendre). When a man, who is connected to so many sins, his sins can do great damage. For that, he needs to be removed from his position in the ministry, and be content to be ‘just’ a Christian.

    Frankly, y’all disappoint me in that you take so much glee in the fall of another. You may think we are ignorant, or blindly follow men, but I don’t. And we are taught that all men fall short of the glory of god. Period. End of story.

  17. Kristian:

    “Before you gloat too much, consider how God sees ALL of us”

    More accurately, how some folks believe God sees us. Many folks don’t believe that God sees us that way at all. And some don’t believe in God to begin with.

    “Frankly, y’all disappoint me in that you take so much glee in the fall of another.”

    You’ll just have to forgive them, Kristian.

  18. I am a little angry at you… but that is wrong… ARGH!

    You put this eloquent piece on ‘Whatever’ and then wrap it together with scripture that tells me that I should not take delight in the misfortune of others. Damn, got to go, my Schadenfreude Pie is burning.

  19. Yes, Dan, I think you have captured the real story. The good rev didn’t do anything wrong! He was saved, after all. This just has to be an evil plot that is a part of the insidious gay agenda to destroy christianity.And why would we want to destroy christianity? Because we can’t tolerate being called to repentence, I guess.Jon, unrepentant homosexual heretic.

  20. Any glee I take in seeing this man fall from grace is due to his own intolerance of the sins of others. As the passage John pointed out says, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

    Or in the words of another saying, “What goes around, comes around.”

  21. I truly wish that this would change any evangelical’s heart and that they could then not condemn me and others to hell.

    Practically, I believe that the outcome of this is that they will abandon this man and use him as an example of the absolute depravity that comes with being a homosexual. They will take his years of lying and cheating not as a sign that to condemn a lifestyle is to create a need to lie about it, but rather as a sign that homosexuals really ARE this bad.

  22. Kristian, there’s something about “let he without sin cast the first stone” and the gravel pits this guy has filled that leads me to “those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” He dabbled in politics, which the person he claims to have followed specifically commands his followers not to do (render unto Caesar, etc), he will have to live with the judgement of politics.

  23. Consider also Numbers 32:23. A determined spinner of biblical tests could turn the entire chapter into a lesson on how the closeted should not get in the way of those who don’t want to remain closeted.

  24. Nothing beats Bacon Cat.

    The true get-out-the-popcorn moments will come from the post-scandal spin. Expect the usual suspects to talk about how we should forgive him, how he was infected with Teh Gay and it’s Satan’s fault, not his, how this is truly gay-bashing and the Left should be ashamed, etc. etc.

  25. Scott Mactavish, “stand by for its length to exceed that of Coke Zero and possibly even Bacon Cat”

    Exceed the (posts) length of Bacon Cat? Why, sir, I take extreme junction at those words. the importance to society and the course of Western Civilization that permeated the instance of said Bacon on Cat violence overshadows by orders of magnitude this tawdry little “homosexual” affair.

    Let the silliness begin!

  26. Frankly, y’all disappoint me in that you take so much glee in the fall of another.

    We should all take glee the downfall of a hypocrite. That’s what hypocrites are for.

    Krissy should definitely have been laughing. I hope we all get days of chuckles out of this.

  27. I don’t necessarily think that some religious people ‘blindly follow men’ – but I do think that some religious leaders do not practice what they preach. And what some of these leaders preach is not a Christian message – or at least not my view of one. Haggard is well known for preaching a nasty hate filled message about homosexuality.

    If someone feels that way about homosexuals, and they have gotten to that point through their own investigation, research and soul searching, well, I disagree with them, and I hope that they would be open to a discussion about why we disagree.

    If someone feels that way about homosexuals, and they do so because rather than conduct their own investigation, they simply adopt the views of their religious leader, not only do I disagree with them, but I do take satisfaction in the fact that one of those leaders has just been caught doing exactly what he preached was so sinful.

    I take satisfaction not because I glory in the downfall of another, but rather in the hope that one sinner’s downfall can encourage his followers to re-evaluate some of their positions. I hope that others will see that Haggard’s hate filled message about homosexuals stemmed not from a sincere belief, but rather sought to take advantage of preexisting prejudices and inclinations in his flock.

    If Haggard was a practicing homosexual over the past three years, it is my hope that some people decide that what was *wrong* was his preaching that it was sinful – not the fact that he was (and is) gay.

  28. It’s worth noting that every group is unfortunately defined by its loudest members. For the past two or three decades, Christianity in the US has been generally defined by the loudest ones, whose voices has been amplified largely because they’ve been co-opted by the political right.

    There’s been signs lately that many of the folks who have gone along with the script are starting to get tired of it, partly because the Bush League hasn’t implemented a Christian theocracy, and partly because more and more folks are realizing that they never intended to.

  29. I bet if I taped some bacon to Ted Haggard’s man- whore, posted pictures here and then popped it onto teh Fark, the whatever would go up in flames and Bacon Cat would flee in shame, to live in a cave at the edge of the Scalzi Estate.

    I’m not above porking a man-whore, yo.

    Hey, wait a minute….

  30. Scott,

    I bow before your superior punning, yo.

    I believe the definition of “evangelical” is: “belonging to or designating the Christian churches that emphasize the teachings and authority of the Scriptures, especially of the New Testament, in opposition to the institutional authority of the church itself, and that stress as paramount the tenet that salvation is achieved by personal conversion to faith in the atonement of Christ.” This is consistent with the “Statement of Faith” published by the National Association of Evangelicals.

    Others who label themselves as such (I most definitely do NOT) may have a different interpretation.

  31. I grew up in a very conservative Christian family, and went to evangelical churches, etc. etc. But this is the first time I’ve ever heard Ted Haggard’s name. So I’m having a bit of a WTF moment here.

  32. My own Schadenfreude is somewhat tempered by the thought of what Haggard’s family is going through. Mrs. Haggard may or may not have had an inkling, but I’d guess not, and having “your dad is a crank-snorting gay whoremonger” trumpeted nationwide is not something that’s ever best for the children.

  33. You know, the super-uber macho straight guys who just can’t ever shut up about how much they hate gays usually have issues.

    I’m sure a study of blogger political orientation and their PC image cache would be illuminating.

    Stupid human subjects review and research consent rules. (Kicks sod angrily.)

  34. You know, the super-uber macho straight guys who just can’t ever shut up about how much they hate gays usually have issues.

    I’m sure a study of blogger political orientation and their PC image cache would be illuminating.

    Stupid human subjects review and research consent rules. (Kicks sod angrily.)

  35. You know, the super-uber macho straight guys who just can’t ever shut up about how much they hate gays usually have issues.

    I’m sure a study of blogger political orientation and their PC image cache would be illuminating.

    Stupid human subjects review and research consent rules. (Kicks sod angrily.)

  36. You know, the super-uber macho straight guys who just can’t ever shut up about how much they hate gays usually have issues.

    I’m sure a study of blogger political orientation and their PC image cache would be illuminating.

    Stupid human subjects review and research consent rules. (Kicks sod angrily.)

  37. Scalzi:

    It’s also a reminder that “evangelical” as it describes a political segment of the population is not the same as “evangelical” as a descriptor for Christian churches that emphasize evangelizing.

  38. I have no problem describing myself as a lifelong “evangelical”….and I’ve never heard of this Haggard dude. Obviously a dreadful hypocrite, deserving of all that he’s brought on himself, if the allegations are even partially true. But describing him as “the leader of 30 million evangelicals” is a bit much. I’d be willing to bet 97% of evangelicals have never heard of him, so he’s not exactly the “fundie” version of the Pope.

  39. Hey, look, from the CNN breaking news headline: he didn’t inhale – the drugs, anyway.

    “The Rev. Ted Haggard admits he purchased methamphetamine from Mike Jones, the man who accuses Haggard of paying him for sex, but the pastor says he threw away the drugs.”

  40. Did he throw them away every time he bought them? Because it seems like he bought them more than once.

  41. I don’t see what “Kristian” finds so objectionable. Speaking as a fellow Christian, I think this story a complete hoot. And it’s all decked out in appropriate scriptural references, too! What’s not to like?

  42. What’s all the fuss about? As you have reminded us, we Christians are commanded to love our fellow men . . .

  43. Sorry to jump in so late (had to kip down to the store to buy a pint of the Bitter Tears Of My Enemies, which you need for Schadenfreude Vinaigrette [I'm on a diet, so the ol' Schadenfreude Pie is right out]), but if didn’t have a chance to read Jeff Sharlet’s excellent (and scary) profile of Ted Haggard and the New Life Church, hop on over to Harper’s and have a read.

    As for ol’ Ted: I feel badly for his family and his flock. This is the kind of thing that will knock an entire world-view out of whack.

    And, John H: thank you for that mind-scarring image (re: James Dobson and mule fellatio).

  44. The “Jesus Camp” documentary reminds us that Haggard was one of the Evangelicals that had a weekly conference call with the Bush Administration for political advice and spiritual guidance, so how’s that for a just-past-October surprise?

    I’m still not convinced there’s hot flaming fire underneath all this smoke, but each new revelation is half-hilarious and half-awful. If it was adulterous gay sex, that’s simply the love that dare not speak its name (uh, plus adultery). If Haggard was into meth as well…maybe he was trying to degrade himself into masochistic relief? Would the next step be simony, embezzlement, or murder?

    Unfortunately, the Evangelical movement can still ignore all the cool, well-adjusted homosexual couples wanting to get married. Rev. Haggard wasn’t advocating a romantic, stable relationship with his meth dealer, he was just wallowing in sin and self-loathing. At least that’s how I’d spin it, along with accusations of some childhood minister molestations.

  45. thank you for that mind-scarring image

    That’s okay – I could have come up with something worse. Like the thought of Rush Limbaugh and Pat Buchanon snuggling together…

    (I think I need to disinfect my brain now…)

  46. Or Ann Coulter in the middle of Cheney and Rumsfeld, daisy-chained in ecstasy on top of the glass case containing the US Constitution as GWB, dressed as the Gimp, mops the floor underneath them.

  47. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemnened.

    Isn’t it paradoxical how people quote these sentences only when judging others? Witness how I myself just quoted them in order to judge Mr. Scalzi’s judgement of others.

  48. Jon,

    Two things, first you say “I like Jesus; he was a righteous dude.” You might want to reconsider that thought. Jesus claimed to be God. He raised people from the dead and conversed with demons. If your neighbor did that I don’t think you would describe him as a “righteous dude”. The fact is that Jesus wasn’t a “good man or a “good moral teacher” like Budda or Mohammed. He was either who he said he was ( God) or he was a lunatic and a dangerous lunatic at that. You can’t read the Bible any other way.

    Secondly, Jesus teaches a very narrow and exclusionary gospel. He say ” I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.” That’s as narrow as you get. You can like it or not but to complain abot it being narrow or that the people who believe it are narrow is to miss the whole point of what Jesus was trying to say. If there was another way then He wouldn’t have had to die. I’m pretty sure He didn’t go through the whole incarnation/crucifixion thing just to be another option on the menu.

    Finally, Christianity is unique among all religions in that it is the only one in which God comes looking for us. In every other religion man goes looking for God. Jesus comes for us because we are too far gone to go to Him. Ted is certainly an example of that.

  49. Paul:

    “He was either who he said he was ( God) or he was a lunatic and a dangerous lunatic at that. You can’t read the Bible any other way.”

    Maybe you can’t, Paul. But you’re not me, and I’m not enjoined to buy into your either/or scheme here because I don’t find it either correct or useful. I’m perfectly happy to consider Jesus as a human moral philosopher. You don’t have to like that position, but I’m not particularly concerned about whether you or anyone else likes it or not.

  50. Ug…I am ashamed to admit I have a common ancestor with the twit…

    …what’s that you say? He does drugs and consorts with male prostitues?

    Somehow, knowing that, I don’t think it is any worse to be related. And knowing most of the other Haggards in my family tree- he’s not too different from the rest of the bunch. Somehow I managed to get out without major addiction issues and a penchant for the “The Love that Dare not Speak Its Name During Pancake Breakfasts”.

    It’s true…he’s kin…

  51. ewwwww…

    forget I brought it up – PLEASE!!!

    Dane: Are you also related to Merle, the original Okie from Muskogee?

  52. An X-Mas Miracle

    And Cheney and Rumsfeld, with their grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,

    Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?

    It came without ribbons! It came without tags!

    “It came without packages, boxes or bags!”

    And they puzzled three hours, `till their puzzlers were sore.

    Then Cheney and Rumsfeld thought of something they hadn’t before!

    “Maybe Christmas,” they thought, “doesn’t come from a store.

    “Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

    And what happened then…?

    Well…in Who-ville they say

    That Cheney and Rumsfeld’s small naugahyde bondage harnesses

    Grew three sizes that day!

    And the minute their naugahyde bondage harnesses didn’t feel quite so tight,

    They whizzed with their loads through the bright morning light

    And they brought back the civil rights! And the food for the feast!

    And they…

    …THEY THEMSELVES…!
    Began the withdrawal from Iraq!

  53. Hopefully I’m allowed to post a YouTube link here. Apologies if this is a no-no.

    Richard Dawkins debating Haggard from a series that appeared on British television.

    A bit slanted, but still eye opening to say the least…

  54. Merle? Not that I know of…though I have to say that if I could pick my relatives, Merle would be my choice.

  55. Before you gloat too much, consider how God sees ALL of us:

    But we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our righteousnesses [are] as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

    Isaiah 64:6

    That’s because God is an abusive parent. Or more accurately, the God that some people believe in is an abusive parent, and them the abused children in denial. Fred Phelps and his god for example. It’s sad. Other people believe in a kind and nurturing God, and they’re better off for it.

  56. What I’m trying to figure out is if Ted Haggard actually expects us to believe that he threw away the meth he bought from the male prostitute. I don’t remember if he has admitted to being massaged. (However, there’s nothing wrong with a massage.)

    I find how he worded his denial weird. He said, “I did not have a homosexual relationship with a man in Denver.” It’s weirdly too specific. Does this mean they went to Boulder? Why say “with a man”? Who else could he have a homosexual relationship with? Perhaps he meant “with that man”? But that’s weirdly specific too.

  57. He was trying to avoid saying, “I did not have sexual intercourse with that manwhore in Denver proper, nor any of Denver’s northern, eastern or western suburbs.”

  58. JC:

    Not to mention that the phone messages have him looking to buy more meth. Because apparently he was going to throw away the new batch, too.

    Saying doesn’t have a “homosexual relationship” is not the same as saying one hasn’t had “homosexual sex,” which I suspect was the matter of that parsing. As for getting a massage from a male prostitute, clearly one needs to ask if there was a “happy ending” special going on. Because per Clinton, some things may not count as “sex.”

    Mmmm…. happy endings.

  59. Oooh! I know what he should say!

    He should say he only did it because he made the mistake of getting involved with Dungeons & Dragons, and the rules required him to do it!

    It’d be like a Jack Chick tract made real! All the evangelicals would nod sagely and forgive him the transgression of getting involved with esoterically shaped dice.

  60. Jokes aside… the meth epidemic is getting pretty serious in America, isn’t it? This very nasty drug (which rots people’s brains) seems to be spreading to all corners of your society.

    What is to be done about meth? First thing that evangelists COULD do is to demand that over-the-counter cough medicines (like NyQuil and similar ones) are banned. Everybody knows that these over-the-counter drugs are used to extract crystal meth in meth labs across America.

    What would Jesus do?

  61. Yngve, on the off-chance that you aren’t up on what passes as the War on Some Drugs over here, rest assured, that’s already being done. I had to fill out paperwork, show a photo ID, and sign (although not in blood) the US equivalent of a poison registry to buy 20 tablets of pseudephedrine this past weekend. Last year, I put the package into my shooping cart and went on to buy shampoo and a magazine without any extra work involved.
    Oddly, making it more difficulty to purchase small amounts of pseudephedrine has not stopped the use of methamphetemines–just increased the imports of the drug from Mexico.
    Next Week: We blame this on NAFTA.

  62. The only way this could get better would be if there was a collection of gay porn and a collecton of bondage gear hidden inside that giant globe.

  63. Oh my sweet Jiminy, I just saw the interview Scalzi linked to in the Update. It’s on the link marked “Watch what Haggard said about the drugs he bought — 1:59)”. The reporter peppers him with very pointed questions, and by the end when Haggard answers you can *see* him think, “Okay, I shouldn’t have said that, either.”

    To quote a famous philosopher: “I’m sorry. I probably shouldn’t be laughing.” Especially with his wife sitting in the SUV between him and the reporter. Like mythago said (paraphrased), this must suck for his family.

  64. Tor,

    I live in a southern suburb of Denver…should I have been paying closer attention to the comings and goings at the “no-tell mo-tell?”

  65. Steve Bucheit writes: “Well, at least it won’t be alcohol rehab for him, I hear that place is filled to capacity anyway. Nope, it’ll be meth rehab. The rooms aren’t as nice but the food is better. ”

    I dunno about that. The meth rehab may have to serve liquids and soft foods, if what they say about meth users’ teeth is true.

  66. I recently discovered this blog. I’ve been doing netroots work in this election since May. It’s very refreshing to read such a fine blog. John is a fine host writer and the commenters certainly live up to the standard he set.

    After months of reading people screaming at each other, it’s refreshing to see thinking people have a lively conversation.

  67. Yeah, I read about that earlier. The guy who conducted it says he was too stressed out for the thing to be done correctly.

    Honestly, this whole thing is weird.

  68. Almost completely off the topic, whenever I compare the New Standard to the King James, I am struck by the poetry of the latter.

    Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

    Compared to:

    And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
    Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.

    Man. That King James, he rocked. That’s poetry.

  69. Well, the guy who administered was giving him some benefit of the doubt for stress, yes, although the accuser is also begging off on the offer for another test, say, next week….hmmm…

  70. Do not judge, and you will not be judged.

    I really don’t like that phrase. (I’m always tempted to respond “your terms are acceptable”—and I’m not without sin neither.) Because judgment is important. It is important that we judge our own action so we avoid doing wrong. It is important to judge the character of others to avoid being hurt, or being lead into error. And regrettably it is sometimes appropriate and necessary to judge and censure others—we do need to police our bad actors, and not just through a formal justice system. I much perfer the mote/speck formulation, for it is our own actions where judging is the most important&mash;it is our own actions we are best placed to change and it is our own actions that we are responsible for. But also because we really should show mercy and kindness when possible, and to not strain at gnats.

    As for Ted Haggard, well despite the evil he advocates (appearently; I’m not familiar with him), he is a human being. I don’t think some schadenfreude pie once in a while is a bad thing; but I think we all realize it should only be eaten in moderation.

  71. I think I can speak for everyone here when I say: Please dear god let there not be anything about a cigar.

  72. Mule face writes: “Strange development: Haggard’s accuser failed a lie detector test….”

    Apparently only on *part* of the questioning.

    But regardless, Haggard’s story doesn’t sound terribly convincing, and the tapes of him asking for “more” meth don’t really support the idea that he bought it once out of temptation then threw it away.

  73. I’m falling back on the Pagan ancient Greeks, via the Oxford English dictionary:

    “hubris”- (in Greek tragedy)excessive pride or presumption towards the gods, leading to nemesis.

    “nemesis”- the inescapable agent of someone’s downfall, especially when deserved.

    His hubris caused him to become his own nemesis.

  74. I think the phrase “really officer- this was my first time” is somehow imbeded in the human genome. Along with it are phrases like,”How’d that get there?.” and “That’s not mine!”. No matter how red-handedly caught, how intoxicated, or how surprised you might be- those phrases automatically spring into existence in your mouth…

    At some point in history they must have made the difference between life and death….

    autonomic-denial; proof of evolution?

  75. To throw some fuel on the fiery Biblical debate, scholars uncovering and studying the Q Sayings Gospel (the reconstructed direct quotes from Jesus’ actual ministry, as distilled from later texts building upon them), pretty much say straight out that Jesus, in fact, NEVER said He was God or the son thereof.

    Apparently, those claims were added later by the New Testament gospel authors who wanted to boost the credibility of Jesus by having Him claim Divine relationship.

    Yes, it’s in the Bible. But the Bible isn’t the direct words of Jesus (none actually exist, since it’s quite likely that neither Jesus nor his disciples were literate, hence the need to peel away the layers of centuries of texts to determine what was really said by determining the chronological ages of various texts and seeing what was added and what was taken out over time), but rather is based on texts written later on by people who believed Jesus’ Divinity to be true (or wanted to very badly) and put that “truth” into the mouth of the Man they believed to be their Savior, regardless of what Jesus Himself actually said.

    So, at least according to the Man Himself, He really was a righteous dude. But that’s all He ever claimed for Himself. What others claimed of Him after the fact is another matter.

  76. I just want to say that that giant globe behind Haggart in the photo is truly S.M.E.R.S.H.-worthy.

    Maybe his true calling isn’t the Cloth, but as a Bond villain.

    And yeah, weep for the guy, he managed to sell out gays, lesbians, and evangelicals.

  77. I have no problem judging people.

    1. Nothing but contempt for Haggard.
    2. No sympathy for his family. They probably sat in the front row amening while he preached homosexuality is evil. Just desserts, as far as I’m concerned, and deliciously so.
    3. The Bible is the last place I would ever look for guidance on anything. Except the KJ version. Yes, good poetry.
    4. I don’t believe there is a meth epidemic. Or a crack one. Or a heroin one. I do believe there is a gullibility epidemic targeted to distract people from real problems like poverty and war.
    5. I believe John’s baldness is kickin’. Oops. Wrong thread.

  78. No crap, Janiece–all this talk about “does that mean they got it on in Boulder” makes me think I should have been paying attention. I mean, there’s this bar, y’know, it’s walking distance from my house, I once ended up there barefoot due to being distracted during a search for a Colorado Daily newstand that wasn’t empty.

    The things I miss!

  79. “Jesus was way cool
    Everybody liked Jesus
    Everybody wanted to hang out with him
    Anything he wanted to do, he did
    He turned water into wine
    And if he wanted to
    He could have turned wheat into marijuana
    Or sugar into cocaine
    Or vitamin pills into amphetamines?”

    -Jesus Was Way Cool, King Missile

  80. Andrew Wade: Do not judge, and you will not be judged.

    I really don’t like that phrase. (I’m always tempted to respond “your terms are acceptable”—and I’m not without sin neither.)

    What that phrase says to me is, if you’re going to be judgmental (and there are certainly times when one must be), you should be prepared to be scrutinized as well. If you point out my shortcomings, human nature will tempt me to start checking off yours too.

  81. Josh, I’m sure Coyote is, until he gets distracted by something shiny. :)

    Soni, “quite likely that neither Jesus nor his disciples were literate.” Far be it from me to defend Christianity, but if we accept at least some of the premises of the New Testament Story (pieced together from the accepted Gospels), Mathew was a tax collector, he would have had to be able to read and write. Jesus quoted the scripture, which, you know, since He dictated it He ought to be able to without being able to read (that’s meant to be funny, Coyote is still laughing). There would be a master thesis (multitudes actually, with a plethora of PhD dissertations thrown in) over just who wrote the Gospels and when and for what purpose, but people back then did have some degree of knowledge, although I think most people know that the Gospels themselves weren’t penned by the Apostles.

    Also, the KJV was specifically written to be poetic and use the language in a way that it hadn’t been used in decades.

  82. since it’s quite likely that neither Jesus nor his disciples were literate

    Why do you say that?

    the meth epidemic is getting pretty serious in America, isn’t it?

    It’s BEEN very bad. And a contributor to the problem is that the Drug W4rri0rz have cried wolf so many times (Pot will destroy America! No, crack! No, Ecstasy!) that now that they are really talking about a drug that is very, very dangerous, people aren’t inclined to treat it as more than the panic-of-the-month.

  83. I am afraid that I have to agree with the comments by critter42.

    It’s unlikely that Mr. Haggard’s outing will have any effect on the masses of Evangelicals. They are a large herd and one that won’t be turned around easily.

    I worry a great deal about what these narrow minded folks are doing to contribute to the current wave of neofascism (a term that sounds harsh but rings true to me)that seems to be sweeping my beloved country.

  84. The Harper’s article on Haggard mentioned a Thomas Blackshear painting that was a prominent feature of Haggard’s church. I went looking for more Blackshear info and found this painting:

    Forgiven

    Creepily erotic. Jesus as homosexual savior.

  85. Scalzi wrote:

    “He was either who he said he was ( God) or he was a lunatic and a dangerous lunatic at that. You can’t read the Bible any other way.”

    Maybe you can’t, Paul. But you’re not me, and I’m not enjoined to buy into your either/or scheme here because I don’t find it either correct or useful. I’m perfectly happy to consider Jesus as a human moral philosopher. You don’t have to like that position, but I’m not particularly concerned about whether you or anyone else likes it or not.

    Paul seems to be basically asserting C.S. Lewis’ rejection of a “middle ground” as set forth in “Mere Christianity” (although less eloquently, of course).

    But it seems as if Lewis (and Paul!) neglects the possibility that a person can be crazy or greatly mistaken about some things but not necessarily about others. Maybe every “great” person is a little crazy—why would a sane person put up with the hours? Maybe believing one is the son of God (or at least divinely inspired) is a little less crazy in some times and places than it would seem today.

  86. Soni Pitts claimed….

    “Apparently, those claims were added later by the New Testament gospel authors who wanted to boost the credibility of Jesus by having Him claim Divine relationship. ”

    Nice bit of biblical scholarship there….care to back it up?

  87. Karen Lofstrom:

    Good call on the Beardshear painting. My initial instinct, upon seeing the “Forgiven” man’s purple shirt and mallet in his hand, was that he was supposed to symbolize those activist judges. But maybe the tent peg in his other hand is supposed to imply that he nailed Jesus to the Cross? Then perhaps Jesus’ brotherly embrace-from-behind with his brawny hands symbolizes that Jesus is cool with getting nailed. What can we infer from the anachronistic blue jeans? I’m no art historian, but symbolism and symbology are neat.

  88. “He was either who he said he was ( God) or he was a lunatic and a dangerous lunatic at that. You can’t read the Bible any other way.”

    Well there is a third way, that the Gospel is largely fabricated or heavily distorted. We’ll never know for sure but a very good case can be made that the first Gospel was a kit-bash of things that several different messianac preachers said.

    Richard Dawkins tangled with Haggard a while back. During the filming of The Root of All Evil. Haggard flips out at the end apparently, a nasty streak under the nice smile.

    But I don’t consider gay sex or taking recreational drugs to be a crime so he’s blameless over this in my opinion. He’s guilty of hypocripsy but I don’t rate that as a big crime either.

    It’s too bad he can’t just come out and say “Look I’m gay, can I keep my job?”

  89. Mule Face, “Nice bit of biblical scholarship there….care to back it up?”

    I’m sure she could, but a doctoral thesis including document forensics, early Church history, and historical bibliographic cross-referencing probably wouldn’t fit here. But I think she did reference the Q-Gospel/Document, so yeah, she did back it up. If you believe the Q hypothosis is up to you (again, defense would require PhD disertation length material).

    This is an old argument. One that keeps cropping up every hundred years or so. On one side is the “Church” which claims it’s always been there. On the other side are Biblical Scholars who look at more than just the “accepted” Gospels.

    Here’s a good primer, From Jesus to Christ from Frontline.

  90. John H,

    Andrew Wade: Do not judge, and you will not be judged.
    I really don’t like that phrase. (I’m always tempted to respond “your terms are acceptable”—and I’m not without sin neither.)
    What that phrase says to me is, if you’re going to be judgmental (and there are certainly times when one must be), you should be prepared to be scrutinized as well. If you point out my shortcomings, human nature will tempt me to start checking off yours too.

    Oh aye. And Tom Haggard is at the pointy end of that dynamic right now. However I see a distinction between judging, and being judgemental: one doesn’t necessarily have to share one’s judgements with all and sundry. (The latter does have its occasional place too).
    One could read the phrase as a call for empathy. I’m down with that. Or as a call to concentrate on getting one’s own house in order. Sounds good to me too. But on occasion, I’ve seen the phrase, along with the axiom “we are all sinners”, used as an excuse for abdicating the responsibility for exercising judgement. And that’s crap. It is that interpretation that is at the root of my objection.

  91. YES THANK YOU!!! (to the guy who said “Pray, but keep it to yourself.”) the main reason i don’t practice any religion is because THEY ALL TRY TO TELL YOU WHAT TO DO/THINK/BELIEVE etc. in 15 years i have gone willingly a’churchin’ once, with my grandmother, for their 400th year celebration. most of the service was more a looking back, but the other parts were, in short, be nice, everyone has their own god be it Our Father, Zeus, Hecate, Kami, Tezcatl-ipoca, love, money, malice, etc.

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