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Here's a startling admission from the Reverend Louis Sheldon, a Christianist from the "Traditional Values Coalition:

Sheldon disclosed that he and "a lot" of others knew about Haggard’s homosexuality "for a while ... but we weren’t sure just how to deal with it."

Months before a male prostitute publicly revealed Haggard's secret relationship with him, and the reverend's drug use as well, "Ted and I had a discussion," explained Sheldon, who said Haggard gave him a telltale signal then: "He said homosexuality is genetic. I said, no it isn't. But I just knew he was covering up. They need to say that."

Or maybe Haggard was telling the truth. And maybe it's the Christianists who are "covering up" the simple fact of homosexual orientation.

The parallels with the Vatican are eery. They too knew they had priests behaving at odds with church doctrine. But they chose to protect them, rather than the children and youths the priests were molesting. Haggard's activity is far less grave than molestation, but it was a manifest contradiction of his own teaching. And many evangelical leaders, according to Sheldon, knew they had a hypocrite on their hands for a long time. And they did nothing. They kept this fact from Haggard's flock. And people wonder why voters put corruption and ethics at the top of their concerns in this election; and why white evangelicals abandoned the GOP in such large numbers. They can smell the b.s. They can smell the hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty. For the last several years, the American right has been full of both. They now have a chance to rethink. Here's hoping they can.

(Photo: Erik Stenbakken/AP.)

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