THE TED HAGGARD SCANDAL REVEALS MORE THAN WHAT GOES ON BEHIND THE SCENES
Evangelist Ted Haggard, now the ex-president of the National Association of Evangelicals and ex-pastor of a mega-church in Colorado, admitted that he bought methamphetamine and received a massage from a male prostitute. The whistle blower, Mike Jones, said he spoke up because of Haggard’s hypocrisy of openly opposing gay marriage but going behind the scenes having gay sex. Anthony Venn-Brown a former leader in the Assemblies of God in Australia and an ex-ex-gay says that there are lessons to learn from scandals such as this.
‘Many churches today still hold on to the outdated beliefs that homosexuality is a sin, illness and the result of improper parenting or sexual abuse. For those who are same sex attracted in these churches they have to do everything possible to try and change which frequently includes marriage. When that does not extinguish their attraction to the same sex then they are forced into a life of secrecy,’ Anthony Venn-Brown said. ‘The shame and self hatred that begins to develop causes behavioural and psychological issues. Any gay man who has had to suppress or deny his true sexual identity knows how tormenting and damaging that can be.’
‘I experienced the same thing after I came out of Australia’s first ex-gay program and was married for 16 years. Even though I was presenting a wholesome image to others my rejection and hatred of my true self caused me great harm, which eventually manifested itself in a sexual addiction. As long as the church continues to black list gays and lesbians then they are actually creating a climate for these things to happen. When I hear of anyone Christian being obsessed against equality for GLBTI people now, I automatically understand that this is caused by something hidden in their lives. It usually comes out in the end though’, Venn-Brown added. ‘This has been shown with the scandals of other leaders. John Paulk an ex-gay leader for Focus on the Family and Exodus was caught in a gay bar in Washington. Michael Johnson another prominent ex-gay (who was HIV-positive) was accused of having unsafe sex with men he picked up on the internet. Jimmy Swaggart preached aggressively against pornography and homosexuality but was caught more than once visiting prostitutes. Jimmy Bakker of the PTL television network and Paul Crouch of Trinity Broadcasting Network were both accused of homosexual activity. The recent Mark Foley scandal of chasing young teenage boys in the White house is another example of what unhealthy behaviours develop for those in the closet.’
‘I know of a number of married ministers in Australia who have engaged in sex with guys. I haven’t outed them because they are not publicly preaching against homosexuality. If they did then I’d contact them and suggest that they come clean. Most importantly though, coming out should not be an experience that creates shame. It is a wonderfully empowering moment of liberation from shame and self hatred. Knowing how wonderful it is to finally feel proud of who you are I wouldn’t want to rob anyone of that experience,’ Venn-Brown concluded.