The focus of my re:Sources guide for this latest issue of White Crane was on religious hypocrisy. We don’t have to look very far to see that it’s still going on, because it’s been all over the news of late.
Last week Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals and leader of the Colorado based New Life Church, was called out on his relationship with another man. Haggard has been a vocal supporter of Colorado’s anti-gay marriage amendment, which goes to a statewide vote tomorrow, November 7th.
There are so many layers to this story, not just Haggard’s adultery with a 49 year old male escort, but also what seems to be a possible crystal meth habit as well. I see this whole package as an prime example of the soul-crushing power of religiously based homophobia.
This one man rose to power holding this secret, and using his own internal pain directed his anger back against the gay community. In his own attempts to understand himself he turned to illicit relationships for cash, he fell into one of the most dangerously addictive drugs available (and one that is running rampant through the gay community), and he just kept on lying about it. Denying who he was led to this amazing fall from grace.
And let’s be honest, this is a big problem for the evangelical movement. Their constant repression of homosexuals leads to exactly this kind of situation; someone in the closet who rises to a position of power only to be outed and fall. The sadder thing is that Ted Haggard is just one of the most visible victims of evangelical homophobia. There are many other people, children and adults, who are twisted up inside because of this hate.
I know. I was one of them once.
I was lucky in that my family allowed me to come and go from religious beliefs as I saw fit. But I wanted to believe that I could be "good." And I tried, and I suffered because of it. I left when I decided that any God who made me this way and also wanted me to suffer because of it was no God I wanted to have in my life.
Maybe it’s Stockholm Syndrome or masochism, but I don’t understand why people would want to be subjected to that kind of emotional and psychological torture. Maybe it’s lust for power, or a desire for personal control. Maybe they just don’t know any better. Whatever the reason, the effects are obvious; lying, denying, self-loathing, and abusive and addictive behavior.
What will happen to Ted Haggard? This must be an extremely difficult time for him. What will he do with his life now that he’s no longer in his position of power? Will he look at himself for the person he is, and re-evaluate his relationship with God? He’s got a lot of explaining to do, and he’s got to start with himself.