Accused of Homosexual Trysts
By Susan Jones - Senior Editor (CNSNews.com)
A "gay-sex-and-drugs" scandal has erupted just days before the election, in Colorado -- one of the eight states where a marriage amendment is on the ballot.
Ted Haggard, the leader of the 30-million-member National Association of Evangelicals, resigned Thursday after a Denver man -- a homosexual "escort" -- said Haggard has paid him for sexual encounters over the past three years.
Haggard has stepped down from his post as head of the New Life mega-church in Colorado Springs pending the results of a church investigation.
Press reports quoted Haggard as saying that he could "not continue to minister under the cloud created by the accusations," which he publicly denied.
Haggard told KUSA-TV in Denver that he "never had a gay relationship with anybody." He said he is faithful to his wife, with whom he has five children.
But a senior pastor at New Life Church, Ross Parsley, told KKTV-TV of Colorado Springs that Haggard has admitted to some of the accusations.
"I just know that there has been some admission of indiscretion, not admission to all of the material that has been discussed, but there is an admission of some guilt," Parsley told the station.
Some church members see a political plot afoot - an effort to discredit an opponent of same-sex marriage just before the elections. Colorado is one of eight states asking voters to cast ballots on a marriage amendment.
In fact, it was the Colorado amendment that supposedly prompted 49-year-old Mike Jones to go public with his accusations against Haggard: "I just want people to step back and take a look and say, 'Look, we're all sinners, we all have faults, but if two people want to get married, just let them, and let them have a happy life,'" press reports quoted Jones as saying.
Jones says he has proof of his trysts with Haggard, including voice mail messages and an envelope Haggard allegedly used to mail him cash.
Jones, who says he is not working for any political party, claims Haggard used methamphetamines during some of their alleged encounters.
Reaction to Jones's claims was slow to come in, from both sides of the homosexuality divide.