The National Association of Evangelicals,
homosexuality, and reparative therapy
Ted Haggard admits same-sex
About Ted Haggard and the National Association of Evangelicals (NEA):
Ted Arthur Haggard ("Pastor Ted;" 1956-) had
been the president of the National
Association of Evangelicals (NAE) since 2003. He was also senior pastor of the 14,000 member New
Life Church -- a mega church in Colorado City, CO. Time Magazine
named him as
one of the 25 most influential Evangelicals in the U.S. He is married with five
children and an outspoken critic homosexuality and of same-sex marriage.
By late 2006, a sex scandal erupted that cost him the presidency of the NAE. He
was replaced by Leith Anderson.
The National Association of Evangelicals is an umbrella group linking
together fundamentalist and other evangelical Christians. It was organized in
1942 at a meeting of 147 people in St. Louis, MO.
It has grown considerably over the past almost 7 decades and now counts sixty denominations,
about 45 thousand congregations, and a multitude of para-church groups,
commissions, affiliates, schools, and individuals as affiliates and members.
They are the main representative of the conservative wing of Protestantism and
are frequently contacted by the media when reporters want to learn the authoritative evangelical Christian position on a particular topic.
Internal NAE conflicts over sexual orientation surfaced in 2006 and 2008.
The former resulted in the resignation of their president at the time: Ted
Haggard; the second resulted in the resignation of their vice-president of
governmental affairs, Richard Cizik.
Ted Haggard's downfall:
On 2006-NOV-1, Mike Jones, 49 allegedly a gay man
and a Denver area male escort, claimed on a Colorado Springs, CO radio station
that he had had an ongoing sexual relationship with Ted Haggard.
That evening, Haggard denied the claims. He prepared for an investigation by
officials in his church saying:
"I did not have a homosexual relationship
with a man in Denver. I am steady with my wife. I'm faithful to my wife.
I don't know if this is election year politics or if this has to do with
the [federal] marriage amendment or what it is, but I'm not even the guy who will
investigate it or question it. I don't know what the dynamics are, but
this independent group will come in and do that." 1,2
By the next day, Ted Haggard had stepped down as president
of the NAE and as head of the New Life Church. The Associated Press reported that:
"Jones said he has voice mail messages from Haggard, as well as an
envelope he said Haggard used to mail him cash, though he declined to
make any of it available to the AP. 'There's some stuff on there (the
voice mails) that's pretty damning,' he said." 3
On NOV-02, Ted Haggard allegedly admitted that
some allegations of same-sex behavior are true. KTTV reported:
"After Pastor Ted Haggard went public Wednesday night denying
allegations of a homosexual affair, senior church officials told
KKTV 11 News Thursday evening, Pastor Ted Haggard has admitted to
some of the claims made by a former male escort. The church's Acting
Senior Pastor, Ross Parsley, tells KKTV 11 News that Pastor Haggard has admitted
to some of the indiscretions claimed by Mike Jones, but not all of them.
Thursday morning, Jones went on a Denver radio talk show and said Pastor Haggard
paid him for sex over the past 3 years. Jones also claims Haggard used drugs
with him. 4
Ted Haggard wrote a letter to the parishioners
of the New Life
Church which was read by another pastor during services on Sunday, NOV-05.
He stated that:
"I alone am responsible for the confusion caused by my inconsistent
statements. 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. For extended periods of time, I
would enjoy victory and rejoice in freedom. Then, from time to time, the
dirt that I thought was gone would resurface, and I would find myself
thinking thoughts and experiencing desires that were contrary to
everything I believe and teach."
"Through the years, I've sought assistance in a variety of ways, with
none of them proving to be effective in me. ..."
"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. Our church's overseers have required me to submit
to the oversight of Dr. James Dobson, Pastor Jack Hayford, and Pastor
Tommy Barnett. Those men will perform a thorough analysis of my mental,
spiritual, emotional, and physical life. They will guide me through a
program with the goal of healing and restoration for my life, my
marriage, and my family." 5
James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family, later
withdrew his offer to help, citing excessive workload.
The program to help Haggard was apparently some form of reparative therapy or
transformational ministry geared to changing Haggard's sexual behavior and/or
Review of reparative therapy:
In the field of sexual orientation there are two "solitudes" who very rarely
attempt meaningful dialogue:
Religious conservatives, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or other,
generally believe that homosexuality is a behavior that is chosen at or after
puberty. It is changeable, abnormal, unnatural, and hated by God. It is typically
caused during childhood by inadequate parenting, although some religious
conservatives also blame childhood sexual abuse as an alternate cause. Most view
homosexuality as a mental illness, a spiritually sinful state, and/or an
addiction. A small
but growing percentage of religious conservatives now accept that a homosexual orientation
is discovered, not chosen, is difficult or impossible to change, and has at
least a partly biological cause.
Religious liberals, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, therapists, human sexuality
researchers, and others generally believe that homosexuality is an orientation that is often
discovered at or after puberty. It is fixed, and is normal and natural for a minority
of people. It has been proven by studies of identical twins -- who were separated
at birth and raised independently -- to be caused by some factor prior to birth --
probably genetic -- in combination with some unknown factor in the environment.
It produces symptoms that can be detected by child psychologists when the
child is at a pre-school age. Over three and a half decades ago the American
Psychological Association determined that homosexual orientation is not
a mental illness. Other professional associations subsequently followed
Reparative therapy is promoted almost entirely by religious conservatives. It
is typically a lengthy process. It takes on the order of 3
years and costs in excess of $10,000. During therapy, the client attempts to
form a close, intimate but non-sexual relationship with a member of the same
sex. This overcomes the client's alleged lack of bonding with their same-sex parent during
childhood. Reparative therapists believe that sexual feelings towards members of the
opposite sex will naturally emerge during this treatment.
There is little data available on the efficacy and
safety of reparative therapy. But what little information that is available
seems to show that this therapy has a failure rate in excess of 99.5%. Anecdotal
data indicates that a large percentage of extremely depressed and suicidal
clients emerge from conversion therapy. On the other hand, there are also
stories of clients who have tried to change their sexual orientation via
reparative therapy as a last resort, have been unsuccessful, have realized that
their sexual orientation is unchangeable, have fully accepted themselves as
homosexuals or bisexuals, and have finally found peace.
It is our policy to avoid interjecting our opinions into the essays on this
website. However, sometimes the matter is of such extreme importance that we
feel a moral obligation to express our view.
As explained above, most religious conservatives hold views that are very different from the beliefs of religious liberals, sexual minorities, human sexuality researchers, therapists, and researchers.
Personal conflicts over sexual
orientation -- whether they are caused by homosexuality itself (as many
religious conservatives believe) or by the high level of homophobia in society
(as many others do) is leading to massive depression, and extremely high levels
of suicide in the homosexual community. This is not the time for the two sides
to withdraw from each other and sling accusations at each other. This is the
time for discussion, dialogue, joint studies into the reality of sexual
orientation, and revision of peoples' ideas to make them correspond to reality.
The anecdotal evidence appears to indicate that this form of therapy is
ineffective and potentially dangerous. Unfortunately, the quality of the studies
is extremely poor. The culture desperately needs well designed studies that will produce
results that both religious conservatives and others will be able to accept. To
do less than this is profoundly immoral, and will result in millions of people
in real pain -- some with suicidal ideation.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"BREAKING ALLEGATIONS: Head of National Association of
Evangelicals, Ted Haggard, Is Gay!," Evangelical Right, 2006-NOV-02, at:
- Wolf Blitzer, Situation Room program, CNN, 2006-NOV-02.
Catherine Tsai, "Key Evangelical quits amid gay sex claim," Associated
Press, 2006-NOV-02, at:
"Church leader says Haggard admits to some indiscretions," KKTV,
"Ted Haggard's lettter to New Life Church," The Gazette, Colorado
Springs, CO, 2006-NOV-05, at:
Copyright © 2006 & 2008 by Ontario Consultants on
Originally written: 2006-NOV-17
Last update and
Author: B.A. Robinson