Ted Haggard resigned Thursday afternoon as president of the National Association of Evangelicals, amid allegations that surfaced Wednesday about involvement with a male prostitute. Haggard also placed himself on administrative leave as senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, pending a church investigation.
Denver TV station KUSA aired a segment Wednesday night where Mike Jones said Haggard maintained a "sexual business" relationship with him over three years. Jones discussed the relationship on radio station KHOW Wednesday morning, but identified him only as a national religious leader rather than by name.
Reached outside his home, Haggard told KUSA, "I’ve never had an affair with anybody. I am steady with my wife. I am faithful with my wife."
On Wednesday afternoon, when Haggard announced he had resigned as NAE president, he said he would seek spiritual counsel and entrust New Life Church’s board of overseers to conduct an investigation.
Before hearing word Haggard had resigned from NAE, evangelical leaders criticized Colorado media for publishing unverified reports based only on the prostitute.
"It is unconscionable that the legitimate news media would report a rumor like this based on nothing but one man’s accusation," said James Dobson of Focus on the Family, headquartered in Colorado Springs. "Ted Haggard is a friend of mine and it appears someone is trying to damage his reputation as a way of influencing the outcome of Tuesday’s election—especially the vote on Colorado’s marriage-protection amendment—which Ted strongly supports."
Richard Cizik, the NAE’s Washington-based vice president for governmental affairs, told Religion News Service, "All I can say is this is surely a smear and I just don't see much need to respond to it."
Haggard became president of NAE in 2003. Ross Parsley, New Life’s associate senior pastor, now serves as acting senior pastor of the church. "New Life Church long ago adopted an overseers model of governance for situations just like this," Parsley said. "People need to be patient and allow this process to unfold as it was designed to do."
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TedHaggard.com has links to Haggard’s various ministries, including New Life Church and the National Association of Evangelicals. As of press time, these organizations’ sites had not updated with news about Haggard’s leadership.
Tim Stafford profiled Haggard in a November 2005 Christianity Today cover story.