No Hypocrisy There
“Confronting society with the relevance of the gospel by being salt and by reflecting Christ’s light is one of our missions.”Rob Brendle, an associate pastor at New Life Church, recently said he sees no hypocrisy in former pastor Ted Haggard’s indiscretion:
From the National Association of Evangelicals on their “Witness to Society”
“To my knowledge, Mike Jones has not alleged that Ted asked him to marry him... No, I do not see this instance as hypocrisy. I do see it as indiscretion, and I am grateful that Ted is repentant and humble.”Yes, that’s right. Ted did not ask Jones to marry him. He paid him for sex and illegal drugs. While Haggard has been publicly condemning those who live “the gay lifestyle” as sinners and campaigning to prevent respectable same-sex couples from receiving legal recognition for their stable, loving, and in many cases long-term unions, he has been deceiving his family, his friends, his colleagues, and his church by privately engaging in the very acts he condemns. This is a classic case of “Do as I say, not as I do.” But, according to Brendle, that’s not hypocrisy.
Haggard wanted his congregation to believe that he was filled with the Holy Spirit, but in reality his high came from someplace else. What’s worse, Haggard lied about his involvement with Jones and continues to lie about the full extent of their relationship. While it is natural for his flock to circle their wagons, it is just as natural for intelligent, thoughtful people to recognize a brood of vipers when they see one.
Haggard and his people have been ruthless and mean-spirited in their attacks on the GLBT community. They accuse us of immorality. They say we are dangerous to children. They talk about the transformative power of God, about how they are different. It’s true; they are different. They are worse. Much worse.
They never tire of prophesying the demise of traditional marriage that will follow in the wake of same-sex marriage, yet Haggard’s lies and double life have done more damage to his marriage than any gay couple ever could. Like the Roman Catholic heirarchy’s protection and coddling of those who endanger children by knowingly and repeatedly placing pedophiles in parishes, the failure of Haggard’s church to condemn his hypocrisy demonstrates their moral bankruptcy. With each day that they refuse to acknowledge the hypocrisy of Haggard’s misconduct and lies, the credibility of the Religious Right erodes a little bit more in the eyes of the general public.
Haggardgate demonstrates that evangelical religion is theater, and men like Haggard, mere actors. The problem is that they are not content to stand at the pulpit and enact their drama for their own personal entertainment and edification and be done with it. They want our laws to reflect a morality that they themselves are unwilling and unable to follow.
Haggardgate’s witness to society is of a god that is a lot like Santa Claus. He’s useful for keeping wayward children in line, but grown-ups don’t really believe in him themselves. The Religious Right clearly wants others to believe in their god. The question is, do they believe in him? I find it difficult to believe that Haggard for one takes his god very seriously. And yet, he wants his congregation and the larger society to do just that. Haggard’s reputation and the lies he’s telling to protect it have become his gods.
But, according to Brendle, that’s not hypocrisy.