Haggard and the woman in pew 6,793

So it’s official — Haggard is out.

(Denver Post) Haggard fired for “sexually immoral conduct”

Ted Haggard, the beleaguered pastor of a Colorado Springs evangelical church who had denied having sex with a male prostitute, has been fired by an oversight board, which found him guilty of “sexually immoral conduct.”

The findings stand in stark contrast to the immensely popular public image of the New Life Church’s founding pastor. A rising star, Haggard, 50, was at times a consultant to the White House, the author of several books, and until he stepped down this week, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, which represents more than 30 million worshippers.

The board that made the decision, called the “Overseer Board of New Life Church,” said in a prepared statement Saturday afternoon: “Our investigation and Pastor Haggard’s public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct.”

It’s a microscopically small issue in the greater scheme of things I suppose, but I find myself wondering how well Haggard’s megachurch will survive without him. Whether we agree with their theology (and politics) or not (and I certainly don’t), there’s no question that most parishioners of churches like this, from the leadership all the way down to the lonely old woman in pew 6,793, sincerely hold to the tenets of their faith.

And it is this dedication by others — however misplaced it may seem to some of us — that makes Haggard’s fall a little sad, his personal, religious and political hypocrisy notwithstanding. Building a monstrosity of a church like this, one bigger than many fair sized towns, wasn’t the work of just one man. Within the congregation there must have been hundreds of people who dedicated their hearts, souls, money and most importantly their labor to the church. They believed in it. They believed in Rev. Haggard. And you can take it to the bank that many of them, the woman in pew 6,793 included, built their whole lives around it.

And then they turned on the evening news.

So what comes now for Haggard’s New Life Church? It will be a tough go. It’s hard for any organization built around a single charismatic leader to carry on without him; the stench of scandal here will obviously make it that much harder.

Here’s my best guess: The church will hold its own for six months until Rev. Haggard, having emerged from his spiritual counseling and self-study as virulently homophobic in his words as ever, will begin holding services in an auditorium in another part of town. Half the congregation, perhaps more, will then abandon the New Life Church to walk in the steps of their fallen angel.

And the woman in pew 6,793 will be right there with them.

3 Responses to “Haggard and the woman in pew 6,793”

  1. Larkrise Says:

    Many people cannot tolerate the loneliness of their own thoughts. They feel they must belong to something: a group, a church, a cult, a clan. Without this base, they feel adrift in an ocean of change and uncertainty. The big picture of humanity and planet earth must be reduced to a more manageable size. Feeling included becomes of utmost importance, even though the “group think” may be negative, destructive, bigoted, and ultimately self-defeating. It is self-defeating because the person denies any need for self-examination. The group gives them a set of rationalizations and excuses, vindications and justifications for those destructive, cruel acts that are produced, and their own insecurities. Many groups are positive, of course, and do not go down a negative, destructive route. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with wanting to be a part of something bigger than self. But, each of us needs to examine our motivations for being part of any group, and realistically look at what kind of influence the group will have and the true nature of the goals of the group. We need to be as objective as we can, and be our own devil’s advocate. In doing so, we are able to grow as individuals and not be zombie-like followers. Once a person has become involved in a group situation, it is difficult to overcome the human tendency to “fit in,” hence the success of many cults. It comes from the evolutionary need to survive. I just watched two documentaries on the History Channel about the Ku KLux Klan and the Skinheads. These groups are fueled by rage, bigotry, and paranoia. Most Americans want nothing to do with them. Yet, in the last 6 years, many of their grievances have found their way into mainstream society, dressed up in Brooks Brothers Suits, so to speak. And the Far-Right, under the tutelage of men like Karl Rove, have played to homophobia and fear, racism and bigotry, allowing them control of our government. It may give meaning to the rank and file Republican to be a part of that group, or the woman in pew 6,793 to follow blindly her fallen angel, but by refusing to look at the consequences of extremism and hypocrisy, they fail themselves and they fail humanity.

  2. bigassbelle Says:

    will poor pastor haggard finally get it through his thick skull that it’s not a choice? he can fight it all he wants, but it’s not going to change because it’s who he is. surely the religious zealots are going to get this. if anyone could have changed using all available tools coupled with a raging desire to do so, i’d think it would have been this poor guy. but he admits he’s fought his urges all of his life. so the natural conclusion ~ to a sane person ~ would seem to be that he is simply fighting his nature, not the urge to sin. hoping, hoping, hoping that this wakes up the fools who believe gays are corrupt sinners choosing a lifestyle of debauchery. the hypocrisy is absolutely stunning. i am saddened for good people of faith with this most recent in such a long string of hypocritical blowhards being outed.

  3. skittrell Says:

    Isn’t it enough that he lied three times about this, before he finally came
    clean…which he may never have done, had he not gotten caught!

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