Haggardposter

The leader of 30 million evangelicals and vocal opponent of gay equality ... is gay, and the psychosis  of the closet appears to have led him into a dangerous and self-destructive pattern of behavior with a male escort. Money quote:

The acting senior pastor at New Life, Ross Parsley, told KKTV-TV of Colorado Springs that Haggard admitted that some of the accusations were true.
"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.

I'll bet you the denials are about use of crystal meth, because that carries some significant legal repercussions. But the meth part of the story rings true to me (although we have no firm evidence of it yet). It's what extremely conflicted and sometimes desperately lonely gay men resort to in order to facilitate their self-destruction, and leave behind any sexual inhibitions derived from crushing guilt. But the hypocrisy case remains. Again from the male prostitute involved:

"It made me angry that here's someone preaching about gay marriage and going behind the scenes having gay sex," he said.

Jones claimed Haggard paid him to have sex nearly every month over three years. He said he advertised himself as an escort on the Internet and was contacted by a man who called himself Art, who snorted methamphetamine before their sexual encounters to heighten his experience.

This is no minor figure. He leads 30 million evangelicals. Here's what his own website says about him:

Pastor Ted has been interviewed by Barbara Walters, Tom Brokaw, Bill O’Reilly, Chris Matthews, and more. Time included Pastor Ted in their list of the 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America. Harper’s says, 'No pastor in America holds more sway over the political direction of evangelicalism than does Pastor Ted.'

I'm afraid I feel for Haggard. This is what happens to a man psychologically and spiritually destroyed by actually advancing a lie he knows to be a lie about homosexuality as a "chosen lifestyle" while being gay himself.

His denial of reality, his inability to cope with the world as it is, is often part of the same fundamentalist psyche we see exhibited at all levels of the Rove machine - and, dangerously, within the president himself. Denial is a very powerful psychic force. When combined with addiction, it can fuel destructive behavior. In a human being, it can destroy a person, a family, a marriage, an entire life.

One more obvious lesson: The religious right's lies about who gay people really are must end. Surely now. The victims are also Christians like Haggard. They are countless kids and teens in places where they are taught to hate themselves, and subsequently act out the psychic damage years later. I am not saying Haggard isn't morally accountable for everything he has done, for the lies he has spread, for the hatred he has enabled. That hatred will now come back to him, like the sorcerer's apprentice whose magic of electoral homophobia soon overwhelms him as well. It's brutal pay-back, as it was for Foley, as it often is for every closeted gay man in the end. In the end, their lives lose integrity; and they know it; and then misery; and they feel it more than anyone.

I'm praying for Haggard, as I hope he is praying for me and every sinner. But the lesson of this to the religious right surely is: go and sin no more. Stop the lies. Stop the bigotry. Deal with the reality of gay people, our souls, our wounded hearts, our humanity, our right to be treated equally by our own government. It's what Jesus did. And it is your true calling now.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.