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article imageEvangelical Leader Of Millions Ousted For Sex Scandal Making A Comeback?

By Nikki Weingartner     Nov 24, 2008 in World
Forgiveness is the pinnacle of the Christian faith, as true followers across the globe spread the selfless act of the powerful word. But after bringing shame to the National Association of Evangelicals and the New Life Church, will all be forgiven?
Ted Haggard grew his congregation in Colorado back in the mid 80s from a basement pulpit to a megachurch with the power to reach a wide range of followers in a unique way, which is called small group ministry and based upon the numbers and other strategies, it worked.
Then, just two years ago, husband and father of five was hit by a scandal that rocked the church in a way that served to undermine the core of Haggard's sermons and affiliations that homosexual activity was a sin and condemned by the scripture. A man came forward, telling of his and Ted Haggard's sexual relationship for some three years; a relationship the involved drugs, gay sex and prostitution.
A statement by ABC news on Wiki revealed that Mike Jones came forward with this information because :
"I had to expose the hypocrisy. He is in the position of influence of millions of followers, and he's preaching against gay marriage. But behind everybody's back [he's] doing what he's preached against."
The hypocrisy in which was being discussed was Ted Haggard's public opposition on Colorado Amendment 43 to ban same-sex marriage. The rumor that Haggard was engaged in homosexual activity was allegedly one that was also firing up the gay community for a year before Jones came forward.
Ted Haggard was fired from his position at New Life Church and resigned from his presidential position on the National Association of Evangelicals.
I am so sorry for the circumstances that have caused shame and embarrassment for all of you.... The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality, and I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I've been warring against it all of my adult life.... The accusations that have been leveled against me are not all true, but enough of them are true that I have been appropriately and lovingly removed from ministry.
– Ted Haggard, letter to New Life Church
The church paid him a time limited six-figure severance under the condition that he went away and possibly that he not speak of the details surrounding the case. He and his family moved from Colorado to Arizona in 2007.
In a news article over the weekend, it seems that Ted Haggard is back to business, maybe, with the report explaining a 350-member church in Illinois listening to a guest who was an insurance salesman from Colorado.
His name? Ted Haggard.
Ted's long time friend, Reverend Chris Byrd, invited him to speak to the congregation about sin and forgiveness and he eventually took Byrd up on his offer, preaching from the pulpit earlier this month.
He was undergoing a process of "restoration" by a team of pastors, a process that didn't guarantee a return to preaching but simply helping restore him to the ways of God.
Earlier this year, the New Life Church stated that Haggard had ended the healing process and relationship. One of his team members stated in the news report that "If Mr. Haggard and others like him feel like they have a call from God, they rationalize that their behavior does not change that call," as he explained how even trying to step back into a position of preaching would have an overall negative impact on many involved, including Haggard and his family.
Despite Haggard's admittance to his homosexual activity with a male prostitute, he now adds that his actions were the result of sexual abuse by his father as a very small child that was manifesting itself during that particular time.
The question must be asked that despite his apparent reemergence into the public eye from the pulpit, even as a guest just months following his attempt at "restoration," is he worthy of forgiveness and does that mean he should be restored to a place of preaching?
A team of experts assigned to his restorative well-being may believe that it is premature but Leo Godzich, a support member of Haggard from a marriage ministry out of Phoenix, AZ who has met with him at least once a week believes that the fallen man has a purpose and is truly attempting to fulfill that purpose. Godzich stated in the article that honesty was a commonality and in relation to Haggard's own admittance that "If all men are honest, all men are liars and deceivers." A purpose driven life, or one's true calling, regardless of how it is tainted by the horrors and negatives that are inflicted upon us, will tend to remain the predominant talent, at least so Godzich seems to believe.
Yet there are others who firmly believe that in the world of Evangelical Christians that sure, he can repent and be restored of heart but that he is accountable for his actions and that he has lost credibility not as a follower of the Lord but as a religious leader. If Haggard were to step back up to the pulpit for good, even the slightest mistake could be the impetus for those to completely abandon faith because of distrust.
Jimmy Swaggart, a member of the Assemblies of God, also confessed to "liaisons" with a prostitute which cost him his preaching position and credibility. Swaggart had spent much time and effort bringing down Jim Baker's ministry which was also laden with sex scandal and fraud. Both are considered "has beens" and hypocrites in the course of institutionalized religion and televangelism.
Forgiveness is important and Haggard shows that he admits to his problems as a leader, problems that admittedly resulted from abuse as a child. Still, we are responsible for our own choices and some of the deepest wounds require lifetime of restoration. As the New Life Church made in a public statement:
"we do wish him only success in his business endeavors."
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