Anti-Gay Bush Ally Quits Evangelical Post in Gay Sex Scandal

Fri. November 3, 2006 12:00 AM by Kevin Wayne

Colorado Springs, CO - The leader of an Evangelical organization known for its homophobia and anti-gay politics has resigned after being accused of paying for sex with a man.

The Rev. Ted Haggard stepped down as president of the influential 30 million-member National Association of Evangelicals on Thursday after the alleged gay sex scandal was revealed. Haggard also resigned as head of the 14,000-member New Life Church pending an investigation by a four-member church panel.

During an interview aired on a Denver radio station, Mike Jones, 49, alleges that Haggard paid him to have sex nearly every month for three years. Jones claims he last had sex with Haggard in August and that Haggard initially made contact through an Internet website for male escorts.

Jones also said Haggard snorted the drug methamphetamine before their sexual encounters, to heighten his experience.

Haggard, a married father of five, has publicly denied allegations, but a Colorado Television station reports that Rev. Ross Parsley from New Life Church says that Haggard has admitted that some of the accusations are 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 KKTV-TV.

As Focus on the Family's James Dobson, a prominent Evangelical and staunch opponent to gay-marriage, came out in support of Haggard, Jones dropped another bomb shell by revealing he has voice mail messages and a letter from Haggard.

Jones said he wants to expose the cleric as a hypocrite for opposing gay rights whilst having gay sex.

The allegations surfaced as voters in Colorado and seven other U.S. states get ready to decide Tuesday on amendments banning gay marriage.

Named by Time Magazine as among the "25 most influential evangelicals in America", Haggard reportedly talks regularly with President George Bush or his advisors. He was credited with encouraging Christians to vote for Mr. Bush in his 2004 re-election.

On the heels of the Mark Foley scandal, these allegations come at a poor time for the Christian Right as they fight for "family values."

For the Republicans, who are fighting to retain control of Congress in next Tuesday's midterm vote, Haggard's resignation is at the very least an unwelcome distraction.