Ted Haggard, former megachurch pastor and former president of the National Association of Evangelicals, is in the news again - this time asking gifts to provide two years of financial support while he and his wife Gayle study psychology and counseling at the University of Phoenix.
He sent an e-mail to reporter Tak Landrock of ABC affiliate KRDO - and from the way it appeals to "friends like you," it sounds like it was sent to a lot of people. KRDO has posted the letter as a Microsoft Word document, which you can download from here.
The letter raises three issues:
First, the e-mail blindsided the group of overseers charged with seeing Haggard through his time of repentance, recovery, and restoration. The Gazette quoted Mike Ware:
"We will review that his statement was premature, and we will talk to him about that. It is not an official release from us," Ware said. Ware wouldn't comment on the propriety of Haggard's plea for money but said he felt it was premature of Haggard to release the statement without first consulting the overseers.
So the first issue is simply that Haggard seems to be operating indepently and ahead of those who were appointed to be his spiritual guardians.
The second issue is the address Haggard's letter gives where "friends like you" should mail your donations. According to watchdogs in the blogosphere (see this for a start, which has been linked on multiple other blogs), it is a defunct charity whose mailing addresses belong to a sex offender from Hawaii. Curioser and curioser.
The third issue is raised by Haggard's assets. I'm sure he can use donations, but he wasn't exactly poor to start with. And many people who need to start over in midlife use home equity and other assets to tide them over their straitened circumstances. Some even take out student loans.
According to the Gazette:
Haggard received a salary of $115,000 for the 10 months he worked in 2006 and an $85,000 anniversary bonus before the scandal broke, according to church officials. The church's board of trustees gave him a severance package that included a year's salary ($138,000). He also collects royalties on his many book titles.
Haggard owns a home in Colorado Springs that has been for sale. It has a market value of $715,051, according to records from the El Paso County assessor.
Haggard says he needs your dollars. You decide.